The NBA season is filled with thrills and drama but any serious sports fan will tell you the real action doesn’t really start until the playoffs, when the emotion picks up and the NBA playoff betting action grows into a frenzy.
Each NBA playoff series is a best-of-7 set and with 16 teams in the tournament, the playoffs stretch from mid-April until early June. This creates a ton of betting opportunities, allowing you to wager on the game winners as well as point totals, prop bets, series bets, and futures bets.
If you are an basketball fan looking to place your first bet on NBA playoff series, logging on at a sportsbook can be intimidating at first. But NBA playoff odds are very simple to understand so here is a quick primer on what to look for.
NBA Playoff Odds
NBA odds are similar to NFL odds and are based primarily on the point spread. The point spread is the margin of victory the favorite team must win by in order to “cover” or win the bet. This incentivizes betting on even the most lopsided matchups because the more likely a team is to win the higher the point spread that they must beat. Here is an example you may find at an online sportsbook:
This means that Golden State is the favorite and must win by more than 4 points in order to win the bet. A 4-point win would be a push, so you get your money back, while a 3-point win or less would be a loss. On the other hand, the Nuggets are not likely to win so they “get” an extra 4.5 points. This means that they can lose by up to 4 points and still win your bet.
Along with the point spread, you can bet on the moneyline, which incentivizes betting by offering higher payouts on underdogs. Here is an example:
The moneyline is simply the ratio between your bet and the payout. So a $130 bet on the Raptors would pay out $100 or a $260 bet would pay out $200, etc. The 76ers are less likely to win so a $100 bet would net you $125 in winnings.
How to Bet on NBA Playoff Series
Most odds you will deal with involve single-game winners but there are many more types of bets you can place.
First, you can wager on the point total for any game. This allows you to bet on whether the final combined point total between the two teams will be “over” or “under” the projected total set by the sportsbook.
You can also bet on full series, allowing you to wager on who will win the best-of-7 matchup, or even who will win the entire NBA playoff. You can even place these bets well before the season starts, wagering months in advance who you think will win the next NBA championship.
Many online sportsbooks will also allow you to place prop bets, which allow you to bet on single-game events like who will lead at the half or if a player will hit over or under 6 three-pointers, or in-game bets, which allow you to bet on individual possessions.