NBA Betting and Odds
NBA betting is big business at legal and regulated sportsbooks in the US, and it’s not hard to see why. Pro hoops feature some of the best athletes on the planet making spectacular plays, night after night, with more than a few games each night decided in heart-stopping fashion right at the final buzzer.
The excitement of NBA betting is now live in Virginia. Online sportsbooks with full basketball betting markets went live in January 2021.
We’ll walk through everything you need to know to get in on it here in Virginia, from how NBA odds work to the best NBA betting apps and all points in between.
Live NBA Odds at VA Online Sportsbooks
See below for real-time NBA point spreads, moneylines & totals odds for today’s games at VA online sportsbooks. Use the drop-down menu to navigate between odds boards. Click on any odds to jump right over to the sportsbook, claim your free bets or bonus and open your account. Check the second tab below for NBA championship futures odds, Conference winner odds and NBA MVP odds.
How to bet on NBA games in Virginia
To place your bets on the NBA, you’ll need a sportsbook account. There will be a number of top sportsbooks to pick from in Virginia, from famed daily fantasy sports (DFS) providers DraftKings and FanDuel to some of the biggest names in casino gambling. All provide stellar options for betting the NBA online or via a sportsbook app.
The most important aspect before getting started is to ensure the sportsbook is legal and licensed in Virginia. If you stick to the sportsbooks recommended on this page, you’re safe.
Creating a new account at a licensed sportsbook is simple. After you click through on our link to claim your bonus, you’ll need to enter a few personal details and can complete the process in minutes. Once that’s done, download the iPhone app or Android app from the sportsbook itself and log in to have access at any time.
You can perform all of the same functions on the app as you can on the full online sportsbook. You also have access to all of the same game odds & lines. This also includes depositing and cashing out, researching the lines, and making real bets.
While all sportsbooks will have comparable sports markets, some excel in certain aspects over others. DraftKings, for example, is a great destination for live betting. FanDuel is a great place to go for prop bets.
NBA odds and lines do vary by the operator as well, so shop around to find the best odds on the games and players you want.
Best NBA betting apps
A big reason for the explosive growth in sports betting is that you can do it from anywhere within the confines of a legalized sports betting state. There’s no need to travel to Vegas, or even a crowded local sportsbook and wait in line at a teller.
Sportsbook apps make it possible to bet instantly from your own phone or tablet. And there are some great platforms out there these days. DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM are just a few of them. All three have built great apps for betting.
From an ease-of-use standpoint, FanDuel is probably the best of the three, but it really comes down to user preference. DraftKings has become a go-to spot for scores of bettors in a number of legal states, with many also appreciating the huge daily fantasy sports contests they run alongside the book.
As mentioned earlier, you can handle all your betting business via the app just as easily as you can on your computer browser. The user experience is slightly different, as the app environment is more condensed than what you’ll find online.
There’s also no need to lock yourself into just one betting app. It can be a good idea to pick out several sportsbook apps that you like. You can compare lines between books quickly and jump on any odds boosts or promo offers at any of them.
How to read NBA lines and odds
From the opening tip of the regular season to the last second of the NBA Finals, you’ll have countless opportunities to consider. These are the main ways for you to get in the NBA betting game:
This is a great bet to focus on when just starting out with NBA betting. Just pick which side you think will win the game. The moneyline favorite in the game will be designated with negative odds. For the underdog, odds will be positive. For example:
- Orlando Magic +140
- Washington Wizards -120
In this case, a $100 bet on the Magic will pay out $240 (your original $100 bet back plus $140). A bet on the Wizards requires $120 to make back $220 (including your original $100 stake).
Note: You don’t need to bet $100. All bets and payouts are scalable to whichever amount your prefer. So a $10 bet on the Magic would pay out $24, etc.
Sportsbooks install a point spread for each game. It helps to think of it as an estimated margin of victory. You can choose the favorite minus the points or pick the underdog plus the spread. The side you choose has to cover the margin for the spread bet to be a winner. For example:
- Dallas Mavericks +2.5 (-110)
- Los Angeles Clippers -2.5 (-110)
Payouts for both sides of the spread bet tend to be the same, although they can vary at times too.
For this bet, the only concern is on the total points scored in the contest. Oddsmakers will post a benchmark total for each game. Bettors then get to pick over or under on where they think the final score will fall. For example:
- Over 205.5 (-110)
- Under 205.5 (-110)
NBA prop bets
You can go beyond winners and losers to focus on things such as the performance of individual players. Prop bets are available for every NBA basketball game and many of them will look quite familiar to fantasy sports players.
- Who will have more points plus rebounds — Kawhi Leonard or Joel Embiid?
- Total points for James Harden — over/under 36.5?
NBA live betting
These are bets you can place in real-time as the game plays out. Live betting is a huge draw for the NBA and all other types of sports betting. Also known as in-game wagering, it is a fast-moving market in which the odds and offerings are based on what’s going on. Beyond betting on quarter- and half-based moneylines, spreads, and totals you can also bet specific props on the game and players. Some examples include:
- Which side will have the lead after the first quarter — Blazers or Jazz?
- Who will be the Lakers’ leading scorer in the first quarter — LeBron James/Anthony Davis/other?
NBA futures odds let you bet on the season as a whole. It stays active nearly all year round, with interest really spiking right before the season tips off. More on this below, but a couple of examples of available futures odds.
- NBA Finals winner
- NBA Rookie of the Year winner
Many NBA slates are packed with games. When you feel good about the outcome of a few, you can tie them together on a parlay ticket for a chance to enhance your returns. Odds for the parlay will be based on what the numbers say for the individual selections.
- Celtics over Raptors -140
- Mavericks over Spurs +130
- Total two-team parlay odds +294
While your payouts increase with a parlay bet, every leg of the bet has to win for the ticket to win. If even one bet is a loser, the whole ticket is a loser. This makes parlay bets more difficult to win.
A teaser places more flexibility in the hands of bettors when it comes to the point spread. You can move the number on a handful of games more to your liking by a designated number, such as 4.5 points, and the odds will adjust accordingly.
- Adjust Lakers from -1.5 favorites to +3
- Adjust Rockets from -6.5 favorite to -2
- Total teaser odds: -170
NBA picks explained
When betting on the NBA or any other sport, it’s good to know exactly what the odds are telling you. We can learn a lot just by studying odds, such as the most likely outcome and how much we can expect for correct bets.
Let’s take a look at how it works. For each slate of NBA games, you’ll see a full listing of all of the contests. The games will generally be listed in order by start time. For the matchups, the home team is on the bottom and the roadside on top.
The main game line will look something like this.
- New Orleans Pelicans +3.5 (-110) +155 O 203.5 (-110)
- Miami Heat -3.5 (-110) -175 U 203.5 (-110)
Next to the two team names are the numbers for the three main bet types explained above.
The first one is the point spread. The Heat are favored by 3.5 points at odds of -110. To the right is the moneyline odds, which once again reflect the favored status for Miami with negative odds. The final number is for the total that the sportsbook has set for the game. It stands at 203.5 points with odds of -110 on both sides.
After the initial release of the lines, the volume of bets on one side or the other can lead to some movement on the board. If the majority of action flows to one side, the sportsbook may respond by making the other side more favorable to even things out.
You can always shop for lines at multiple books to find the best numbers on the game. It’s not uncommon to find a few ticks of difference here and there. While it may not seem like much, getting your NBA picks in at slightly better odds will certainly add up over time.
Live betting on NBA games
Live betting can also be referred to as in-game betting. It refers to bets that you can make in real-time as the action plays out on the court. This is an area of the sports betting marketplace that has seen an explosion in interest in recent years. Online sportsbooks and apps have responded by stepping up their games tremendously.
For each NBA game, you’ll have dozens of opportunities to explore as the game plays out. You’ll find updated spreads and odds on the outcome, new totals to consider, and much more. A lot of the opportunities will revolve around specific segments of the game. Eg.:
- What will the total points be at halftime — over/under 102.5?
- Who will have more rebounds in the first quarter — Jayson Tatum or Jimmy Butler?
- Which side will sink more free throws in the second quarter — Grizzlies or Bobcats?
You can place live bets on NBA games at any licensed online sportsbook. As mentioned above, sports betting apps make for a great way to stay on top of live NBA odds.
NBA futures odds
NBA futures open the doors to NBA betting on a year-round basis. That includes even in the offseason. These are bets you can place on an outcome that won’t be known until a later date. Here are some of the top offerings you’ll see.
- NBA Finals: Bet on a team to win it all.
- NBA conference and division winners: Project out the top teams in the league.
- NBA win totals: Choose over or under on numbers set by oddsmakers for each team.
- NBA player awards: Bet on league MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.
- NBA playoffs: Pick out the teams you think will make or miss the postseason.
- NBA draft: Wager on the player who’ll be selected first overall.
- NBA lottery: Bet on which team you think will walk away with the top pick.
Those are the major options, but some books will go the extra mile with additional offerings such as:
- NBA Christmas Day games: Early odds on the matchups.
- NBA rivalries: Who will have a better record?
- NBA season-long props: Individual players and head-to-head.
- NBA All-Star Game: Which conference will win?
- NBA 3-Point Shootout: Bet on players to win.
- NBA Slam Dunk Contest: Bet on who will take it down.
The odds for futures bets work in a similar fashion to others. Once they are released, betting action comes in. That can lead to some ticks up or down in the numbers. You can place your bets at any time and stay engaged all season long to look for opportunities.
NBA prop bets
Props are one of the most popular ways to bet on the NBA. They’re offered for every game on the menu and open up the doors to getting in a little side action. A prop is generally based on something that may or may not happen from the perspective of an individual player or team, or on the game as a whole.
Player props bring a little bit of a fantasy sports element to sports betting. For those who have found success in fantasy, especially DFS, this can make for a great entry point into NBA betting. Here are some examples of what you might see.
- Who will have more points in the game — LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard?
- Total points, rebounds, and assists for James Harden — over/under 44.5?
- Who will hit the first basket for the Bucks — Giannis Antetokounmpo/Khris Middleton/other?
For team-based props, offerings may revolve around which side will hold the halftime lead or the squad with more turnovers. A game-based prop could revolve around the halftime total or on pinpointing the exact margin of victory.
You can find available props for all games by clicking through on the individual game listings. As with most sporting events, the bigger the NBA game, then the larger the variety of prop bets you’ll have to choose from.
Most popular NBA teams in Virginia
While no NBA teams make their home in Virginia, a handful can be found nearby. Betting on the Washington Wizards top the charts in interest for nearby teams, but there are options for those looking for an alternative.
- Home games: Capital One Arena in Washington, DC
- Founded: 1961
- NBA titles: One, 1978
- Division titles: Seven, last in 2017
- Top players: Bradley Beal, John Wall, Rui Hachimura
- Home games: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC
- Founded: 1988
- NBA titles: Zero
- Playoff appearances: 10, last in 2016
- Top players: Devonte Graham, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington
- Home games: FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.
- Founded: 1995
- NBA titles: NA
- Playoff appearances: 10, last in 2017
- Top players: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks
What are NBA power rankings?
Figuring out how to make heads or tails of a point spread on NBA games can be pretty tough. After all, even the most experienced handicappers will take their fair share of lumps over the course of a season.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool you could use to help make more sense out of the numbers? Thankfully, there’s a solid one to lean on. Power rankings attempt to quantify each of the teams in the league while factoring in strengths and weaknesses.
All squads are assigned a number, ranking them from top to bottom. When comparing two teams that are set to square off, you can compare their rankings and factor in the home-court advantage.
By doing so, you’ll land on a number that gives you a ballpark of what a fair point spread should be for the game. Afterward, compare that number to what the sportsbooks are offering. If the power ranking points to an edge and the rest of your research justifies it, then that means you have yourself a game that could be a great one to focus on.
Naturally, power rankings aren’t infallible, as anything can happen when teams step on the court. However, a good set of power rankings can help point you in the direction of winning plays more often than not.
There are plenty of experienced handicappers who develop their own power rankings and adjust them as the season moves along. Among the factors that influence the rankings are teams not performing up to expectations and injuries, which can cloud the outlook.
NBA betting tips
As with any sport, there’s a slight learning curve with NBA betting. You can get up to speed pretty quickly with just a little bit of effort, but patience is a virtue when it comes to finding some consistency. Here are some tips you can use:
1. Start with the basics
There are lots of games on the schedule, as well as numerous bet types to consider. Take a deep breath and pace yourself. You don’t need to know everything right away. Pick out a handful of games to focus on, and do the same with bet types. As your skills advance, you can always increase your level of play if you want.
2. Know what to research
Handicapping can help lead you down the path toward success, but the time spent researching stuff that doesn’t mean all that much isn’t going to help. When breaking down the games, keep it as simple as you can and focus on what really matters: matchup differences, home court, injuries, situational factors, etc.
3. What kind of bettor are you?
While you may not know the answer off the top of your head, it’s important to understand your ultimate goals. If you’re just looking to have fun and make a few bucks, that’s perfectly fine. However, if you have larger aspirations than that, then know there’s lots of work involved.
NBA betting traps to avoid
Along with what you should be doing, there are also some big traps that you’ll want to avoid. Mistakes are going to happen to the best of us, but knowing the pitfalls to watch out for can save you lots of pain. Here’s a trio to avoid.
1. Betting over your head
This applies to both the money you are wagering and the number of bets you place. Avoid the temptation to go overboard and stay in your lane. If you’re feeling scattered and unfocused, then that’s a pretty good sign that you are way over your head. As for money, if you’re cringing at the thought of losing, you’ve bet too much.
2. Letting emotion get in the way
Rooting interest is a part of sports, but it’s really important not to allow that to cloud your judgment. If what you want to happen differs from what you think is going to actually happen, it’s a good time to take a pass. When you simply can’t wager against your favorite team, sit it out and enjoy the game with nothing at stake.
3. Chasing losses
Losing is a part of sports betting. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not being totally forthcoming. You’re going to lose some bets, and it’s going to stink. However, you can learn from what went wrong and take steps to improve each time. Don’t be the guy or gal who chases losses while looking for the white whale of a massive score.
NBA Betting FAQ
Sports betting legislation was officially signed into law in VA in April 2020. That served as the official starting whistle for sports betting, with the rollout on tap for the near future. Virginia residents will be able to bet on the NBA and all other sports before too long.
Since there are no brick-and-mortar casinos located in the state, all betting will take place online or via sportsbook app. In order to actually place bets, users will need to be located inside state lines while doing so, but account management can take place out of state.
For the NBA, there are a whole host of opportunities to explore throughout the season. You can take a long-term view by placing some futures bets, wager on the outcome of the games and even get in on the action as the contests play out in real time.
The point spread is one of the most popular bet types for the NBA. Sportsbooks install a spread on each game, and you need to factor it into your handicapping. The spread is basically like a margin of victory. The team expected to win will be favored by a certain amount of points. If you bet on that team minus the spread, it will need to cover that number of points for you to win. If you go with the underdog plus the spread, it needs to keep the margin under the number or win the game outright.
The NBA draft lottery was implemented in 1985. The idea was to take away the temptation of “tanking” from the league’s poorer teams as they shot for a lofty draft spot. Instead, teams that fail to make the postseason enter a weighted lottery. The worst club in the league has the best shot at the top pick, followed by the team with the second-worst record, and so on. The Minnesota Timberwolves won the right for the top pick in the 2020 NBA draft, which is set to take place on Nov. 18.
Back in the day, there were only a select number of ways to bet on NBA games. The menu has expanded tremendously in recent years. Among the innovations is allowing bettors to focus on a specific segment of the game, such as the second half. Sportsbooks will unveil odds and lines for just the back end of the game for bettors to consider. These can be great bets to focus on when you’re engaged with a game and have a good feel for how the momentum is shaking out.
Sportsbooks have teams dedicated to setting the best possible lines, and a wealth of data at their disposal to boot. They’re quite good at what they do. When setting lines, the sportsbook team — with the help of computers and algorithms — takes the time to analyze all of the factors that may influence the outcome. Once the book has determined which way the winds are blowing, it releases the initial numbers to the public. Oddsmakers will tweak the lines as needed based on how the betting action flows in.
If an NBA total landed right on the posted number as set by sportsbooks, then the bet would be a push and all wagers would be refunded. For example, a total of 209 in which the final score wound up at 109-100 would be a push. Many NBA totals are set with a half-point on the end to prevent it from happening all that often, but it’s a situation that can come up, so be aware.