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Guide to NBA Betting – Basics, Strategy, Odds, Predictions, and More

The National Basketball Association — or simply the NBA — is by far the most popular basketball competition in the world. The league is home to all the top talent and attracts millions of fans.

Many of these fans enjoy betting on the NBA, for various reasons. It can make watching the action even more exciting, for example, and it also offers the opportunity to make some money.

Making money from NBA betting is not easy, though. That’s why we’ve produced this comprehensive NBA betting guide. It contains everything you need to know to improve your overall chances of successful NBA betting.

For a start, we closely follow all the goings-on in the league. You can explore the latest NBA odds and updates, as well as enjoy regular NBA picks from our team of NBA betting experts. They take the time to carefully evaluate all the betting markets, make their NBA predictions, and find the best betting value out there.

However, we don’t just want to tell you which wagers to place. You can certainly take advantage of our free picks and predictions if you want, but we also encourage you to find value in the NBA betting markets yourself. This guide has been designed to help you do that, too, as it includes plenty of advice, tips, and strategy.

Beginners can learn and understand all the fundamentals, while more seasoned bettors can explore some of the more advanced concepts. Below, you’ll find full details of everything featured within this NBA betting guide.

NBA Odds, Predictions, Picks, and Updates for 2022

If you’re looking for all the latest on the current NBA season, we’ve most definitely got you covered.

If it’s help with betting on individual games that you’re after, it’s the following page that’ll interest you the most. Here, our experts provide their top picks and best bets for games throughout the season.

The following two pages are dedicated to the NBA postseason and feature even more odds, predictions, picks, and updates during this time. They’re also regularly updated throughout the regular season with our latest projections.

Why Bet on the NBA?

A lot of people wonder if real money betting on the NBA is a good choice for them. Well, there isn’t an answer that works for every single person out there.

There are some positive and some negative aspects of picking this particular league. We firmly believe that NBA betting is a solid option for most people, but some might prefer other competitions.

The best way to understand if you should be targeting the NBA is to first explore all aspects of betting on the NBA. You need a firm handle on everything that’s involved before deciding whether or not it’s right for you.  Of course, no decision needs to be final. You can always test the waters and change your mind later on.

However, this could cost you a lot of money if you don’t know what you are dealing with. Let’s go through the biggest pros and cons of betting on the NBA.

Advantages of NBA Betting

Let’s start with the positives from betting on the NBA, as they certainly outweigh the negatives. The first one we would like to mention is the league’s popularity and the main consequences of that.

There are millions of people worldwide that watch and bet on the NBA — even more so when some of the top teams and superstars like LeBron James, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, and other legends in the making are on the court.

Of course, many fans from all over the globe also love to place a bet on the NBA games every now and then. As a result, the competition is covered by almost all sports betting sites out there. They gladly offer every single game.

If you decide to bet on the NBA, you will have an excellent choice of legit betting sites.

You will find countless betting markets on individual games, as well as futures and outrights. There are many opportunities that are not available for any other basketball competition. You can add to that the fact that most NBA betting sites offer every single game for in-play wagers as well.

Another big positive related to the mainstream status of the NBA is the many promotions you can find. The sportsbooks are trying to attract as many players as possible. They offer first-deposit and reload bonuses, wager insurances, odds boosts, and all kinds of special deals.

The additional value that comes with bonuses and promotions is an excellent reason to bet on the NBA over less popular competitions.

You can also easily watch the league games. A lot of TV broadcasters around the world are more than willing to pay good money to acquire the NBA rights. People from most countries have rather easy access to every single game.

Additionally, there are multiple ways to watch the NBA online. Being able to follow each team closely is crucial if you want to build a successful betting strategy. There are plenty of factors to consider for each wager, but you should also be able to see what’s going on with your own eyes.

Combine that with all the stats, picks, and additional opinions about the NBA that you can find online. The sheer number of sources of information is astonishing, so you can prepare for your wagers with ease.

Finally, the large interest from the public means that a lot of recreational players will be betting on the NBA. The majority of the money that is placed on the games will come from people who haven’t thoroughly researched their bets.

And since the betting sites always balance the books to ensure they make a profit, this will create opportunities for the prepared players. Simply put, when enough cash goes in one direction, the bookmakers change the odds, and the other option becomes valuable.

Such bets are not that easy to identify and take advantage of, but they are the main reason why you can actually make money by betting on the NBA.

Another one is the lower betting margin. Since the competition between the NBA sportsbooks is fierce, they simply can’t afford to offer lousy odds because no one will use their services. While the margin can reach 10%+ for some other competitions, it is rarely higher than 5-6% for the NBA.

We should also mention the high betting limits for this competition. If you have a working strategy, you can easily scale it. You won’t often be able to place more than $50-100 on unpopular leagues because the sportsbooks and betting sites are “afraid” of accepting more.

That’s not the case with the NBA, as you can easily invest thousands on your bets. The huge stakes make the competition appealing to high rollers and pros that already have a working system in place.

If you get there, you will be able to comfortably reap the benefits of the advantage you created for yourself. That last part is not that easy if you go after other competitions of a lesser profile.

Disadvantages of NBA Betting

As you could imagine, there are some negative sides of picking the NBA as a competition to bet on. It would only be fair if we cover them as well so that you’re aware of the dangers of betting on the NBA.

We already talked about all the positive effects of the league’s popularity across the globe, but it does have a couple of downsides as well.

First of all, the bookmakers are investing a lot in all the data feeds, traders, and math tools required to compile the most accurate odds for each betting market.

The NBA betting sites know that every mistake will be punished severely, so they don’t make many, if any at all.

Unlike smaller leagues, where a deep knowledge could give you an edge over the bookmakers themselves, this is close to impossible for the NBA.

You can’t beat the betting sites consistently; you have to beat the public bet of the players. As already explained, the biased and unprepared players help to create valuable opportunities often enough, so you can still find some profitable opportunities this way.

Another issue is that you can’t get an insane return on investment, or ROI. Even when you find the good bets, your long-term expectations would be around a 3-10% average ROI. That doesn’t sound like much, but you should remember that the betting limits for the NBA are very high.

You can hit much higher ROI in other competitions, but you won’t be able to make a lot of money by betting on them.

Finally, players from certain continents might have an issue with the time difference with the USA. If you are in Europe, for example, most games will be played at extremely inconvenient times. You can always rely on replays and highlight videos, but watching the games and betting live requires a lot of effort on your side.

Is NBA Betting for You?

Now that we know all the advantages and disadvantages of betting on the NBA, it’s time to return to our initial question. Should you bet on the NBA, and why? Well, it depends.

It’s harder to beat the odds compared to the smaller leagues, but it’s way more rewarding. The tons of promotions, the high prices, the ease of access, and the high betting limits provide a platform that can bring you consistent long-term profits. Here is a comparison between the NBA and smaller competitions.

NBA Smaller Leagues
Very tight odds and lines Looser odds and lines
Lower betting margins Higher betting margin
Higher staking limits Low staking limits
Lots of recreational players help move the odds Fewer recreational players, or none at all
Loads of bonuses and promotions Close to no promotions

Sure, only a handful of bettors are making money, but that’s normal for any sport and competition. The biggest difference is that those who are ahead in the field of NBA betting are making so much more.

If you feel that you have the time and effort to invest, the best basketball league in the world is certainly a viable option.

There’s something else to consider, too. If you simply want to have some fun and don’t care about the results that much, the NBA is definitely a great choice. You can pick any bookmaker out there, and you can enjoy some bonuses and other special deals.

One of the potential problems that could prevent one from picking the NBA is the time difference. Many non-US players who love live betting will have to stay awake in the middle of the night.

It might be worth it if you are making a ton of money. If you’re not and want to place in-play wagers, the NBA is probably not the best basketball competition for you.

Getting Started With NBA Betting

If you don’t have experience in sports gambling and NBA betting in particular, don’t rush it. Jumping in too quickly carries a risk of losing your time and money, so be patient. Make sure to learn the fundamentals first.

Here is some information to help you understand the different ways to bet on the NBA.

NBA Moneyline Betting

The moneyline betting option is probably the most popular market when it comes to individual NBA games. You simply bet on the winner and wait for the result. If the team you backed grabs the victory, the bet is also successful, and vice versa.

While the nature of the NBA moneyline bets is pretty simple, a lot of people underestimate them. They try to simply guess the winner instead of evaluating the odds properly and discovering which option is worth it based on value.

The evaluation process takes a lot of time and energy, but you will lose money if you don’t prepare well.

NBA Spread Betting

One of the problems with moneyline betting is that sometimes one of the teams is simply too strong, and it makes the market a bit pointless. A lot of people prefer betting on NBA spreads, also known as handicaps.

Simply put, this market adds more balance by giving an extra edge to the weaker franchise. The favorite must not only beat the opponent but also overcome the handicap to be considered a winner from a betting perspective.

For example, the Golden State Warriors are playing the Atlanta Hawks at home. The spread is set at +15.5 points for the visitors. If you decided to back the hosts, Golden State would have to win by at least 16 points for your bet to win. Any other result would mean that you lose. The logic is reversed if you decide to back the Hawks.

As you can see, this approach eliminates the advantage of the stronger team and makes the game much closer. On top of that, the odds for both outcomes are usually around +100, which makes it easier to build a consistent strategy around in the long run.

NBA Totals Betting

There’s no need to necessarily tie your bet to the outcome of the game in terms of which team wins it and by what margin. There are other exciting NBA betting markets, and the totals are something that many people love.

The main concept behind totals betting is to try and predict how many points in total will be scored in the game. The sportsbooks set a certain line, and you place a wager on one of the sides.

For example, the line could be 219.5 total points. If you back the over, the two teams involved will have to score a total of 220 or more for you to win. It doesn’t matter what the distribution is. If one of the sides hit 140 and the other only 80, that still works.

As long as the total amount is higher than the line, you win (or lose, if you went for the under option), hence the name NBA totals.

This betting market opens the doors to completely new strategies, and a lot of people prefer to pick it over the NBA moneylines and spreads.

NBA Prop Bets

Sometimes you are not interested in betting on a certain team to win, or you don’t care about the more traditional betting markets. You might have a hunch that a particular player or players will be able to perform in a predictable fashion against the opponent.

You might expect an athlete to have an exceptional game and fill in the stats sheet. Or you could believe that he will struggle badly and perform way under his usual numbers. The same applies to whole teams, of course.

If that’s the case, you will have betting opportunities on this front, too. A lot of bookmakers offer the so-called NBA player props and team props.

They include the opportunity to back a player or team to have over/under a certain amount of points, rebounds, or assists in a particular game. For example, let’s say you believe that the Spurs have LeBron’s number and that he won’t have a good night against them.

There is a betting market on King James to score over or under 25.5 points. Usually, about 25-28 is what you would expect, but since you feel the Spurs can stop him, you go for the under 25.5 option.

If he scores 25 or fewer points, your bet is won. If he gets to 26 or more, you lose. You can do the same for most star players in most games, so that’s another source of potentially making money by betting on the NBA.

The online bookmakers that cover the league offer plenty of those NBA props for most matches, but there are other options that are season-long as well.

NBA Futures and Outrights

Most of the NBA betting markets we discussed so far are focused on betting on single games only. Most people prefer that, and it’s the most viable option for building a long-term strategy, but there are other opportunities.

NBA futures and outrights are related to bigger events. For example, you can place a wager on a franchise to win the championship, a player to win the MVP award at the end of the season, and plenty more options.

The list is endless, really, as some of the markets are related to the whole league, others are team-based, and there are also player-based props. Furthermore, you can go for NBA division and conference winners, too.

Some people might seem bored by the idea of waiting for the whole season or at least the regular season to end to see if a bet is won. However, NBA futures and outrights certainly have their advantages.

You can find plenty of valuable opportunities, including some crazy props, and at the end of the day, every bet with a positive expected value is a bet that’s worth placing.

NBA Live Betting

The traditional NBA betting model means placing your wagers before the game or the event starts. This has been the case for decades, but the rapid rise of online sports gambling has brought us the live betting option.

As the name suggests, you can place your wagers while the game is running. The feature opens the door to plenty of opportunities on so many levels. You can go for the most popular NBA betting options like moneyline, spreads, and totals, but also other betting markets that are not available pre-game.

On top of that, you will be able to add the eye test to all the usual stats and assumptions you make when placing a wager.

A lot of successful bettors pick the in-play option almost exclusively, which is a testimony that there is value to be found, not to mention the additional thrill that live bets add to the games you decide to watch.

Complete NBA Betting Guide for Beginners

We made sure to cover the basics of the different ways to bet on the NBA up to this point. You should now know how to place a bet, and you probably have a good idea of how the different options work and what to expect from them.

That’s the first crucial step on the road to becoming a successful NBA bettor, but there are many more to come. Stay patient and eager to learn. Don’t jump into it just yet, as many suffer the consequences of becoming too confident.

There’s a lot more to learn, and there always is, but at this point, it’s still about avoiding major mistakes that cost you a lot of time and money. There are a lot of bumps on the road if you are just starting to bet on the NBA with real cash.

Since we only touched on what’s important for new players, we recommend that you check out our page that’s designed to comprehensively cover the topic. It features more detailed information about all betting markets, but also a list of beginner’s mistakes that should be avoided.

Making Money From NBA Betting

Once you’ve learned all the basics of how to bet on the NBA, the next step is to learn how to bet effectively and give yourself a good chance of making money.

Our page on how to bet on the NBA includes some useful tips for beginners that will help you get started in the right way and form good habits from the outset.

Six tips for successful NBA betting

Here’s a quick overview of those tips and why they’re important.

Evaluate Instead of Guessing

One of the most important rules of sports betting that also applies to the NBA is to learn to think in probabilities. What most people do is try and guess what will happen instead. Such an approach is a certain way to lose your money, as it doesn’t account for the betting odds to the extent it should.

Even the beginners instinctively understand that the price is important. It determines your return at the end of the day, but that’s where the knowledge of most bettors ends. What you should have in mind is that the odds always represent a certain implied probability for the outcome to happen.

For example, the odds of +100 or 2.00 are equal to a 50% chance, as our odds converter will demonstrate. If your wager is correct half of the time, you will be breaking even. To make a profit, the probability must be higher than what the odds imply — in this case, 50%.

Understanding this simple concept and applying it is essential for making money by betting on the NBA.

Use Stats to Bet on the NBA

You can find key stats for the NBA in a ton of different places. Most of the betting sites that offer the competition cover that as well, so you have no excuse not to do research. You should explore the data and incorporate it into your betting strategy.

Look for long-term numbers to evaluate the overall strength of each franchise, but also check recent trends that may indicate drops or rises in the team’s performance.

Place Your NBA Bets Online

We firmly believe that betting on the NBA online is much better than using the services of a brick-and-mortar gambling establishment. The odds are higher, you can find more markets, and there are tons of bonuses and promotions at your disposal.

Simply put, it’s much easier and way more valuable to place your wagers on the internet. If you are afraid that you might be scammed by a fishy sportsbook, you should stick to our recommended basketball betting sites. We have performed an extensive review to confirm that each of them is safe.

Use Multiple Online Sportsbooks

If you are serious about making money by betting on the NBA, you should join multiple bookmakers. You will be able to get even more promotions and shop for the best lines and betting odds for every single game.

The margins might look microscopic at the surface, but even a percentage or two more is worth your time. They accumulate with every single NBA wager you place, and you should spare the extra effort to manage a couple of different accounts.

Manage Your Bankroll Properly

Developing a working NBA betting strategy is one thing. Making money consistently is another. The second includes a proper staking plan that can protect your bankroll from the erratic nature of NBA betting.

Even the best out there often suffer from losing streaks once Lady Luck decides to turn her back on them. You simply can’t avoid dramatic buzzer beaters, nights off from star players, and explosive scoring displays by role players that ruin perfectly good bets.

You should be prepared to absorb the damage by not risking too much of your bankroll at once.

Take Advantage of Bonuses and Promotions

We’ve already explained the benefit of taking full advantage of the bonuses and promotions available when betting on the NBA online, so there’s no need to go over things again here.

Suffice it to say, it’s important that you stay on the lookout for these and try to extract maximum value from them.

Summing It Up

The tips you can find on our “How to Bet on the NBA” page are certainly a great start. They will significantly improve your chances of making money, but there’s still a lot to learn to beat the bookies consistently.

You need to apply more advanced concepts and strategies for the best chance of success, so make sure you diligently review the next section of this NBA betting guide.

NBA Betting Strategy

It’s time to move on to our favorite part — NBA betting strategy. We have a large page that covers almost everything on the topic. We start by exploring general rules but then dig deeper into the different aspects of NBA betting.

You will learn how to prepare before the season starts, how to adjust your strategy later on, and what the best ways are to make money by betting on individual NBA games.

If you want to get a taste of our main strategy page, here are some of the topics that we explore there.

How to Prepare for the NBA Regular Season

Good preparation is the key to success in pretty much everything in life, and NBA betting is not an exception. It’s always a good idea to build a solid foundation and work from there. In this case, this means doing your homework before the NBA season has even started.

There are a number of steps that will certainly help you make money later on. For a start, it’s always important to follow all the important trades and get a good idea of the roster of each team.

Take a look at the incoming rookies, try to figure out the balance, and include the coaching and the chemistry in the whole pack.

Other important NBA aspects you should consider are the key points in the schedule and the general expectations of each franchise.

Overall, the main target is to know what to expect once the NBA regular season starts. The pundits and fans usually have their own expectations based on hunches, but you can do a better job by relying on an objective process that combines different factors.

It should give you an edge not only at the start of the season but in the later stages as well.

Game Betting Strategy for the NBA

Most people that bet on the NBA with real money are interested in the individual games. There are multiple reasons for that.

For a start, having money on the line adds extra fun to watching the games. That’s probably the main motivation of the majority of the recreational players that place wagers on NBA matches, but it also adds entertainment value for pros alike.

What’s even more important is that you quickly learn the results and get your winnings. Unlike season-long futures, outrights, and prop bets, you usually only have to wait a couple of hours or days to know the result.

If your wager was successful, you can almost instantly reinvest the cash in the next NBA game that has enough potential. Since there are matches almost daily, the sheer volume you can achieve is exceptional and makes game betting a viable choice.

We dig deeper and explore the different betting markets and how to prepare for each of them on our strategy page. We also dive into various advanced concepts that will help you evaluate the teams and their current motivation and condition.

Season-Long Betting Strategy for the NBA

Despite the longer wait and some other disadvantages, season-long betting on the NBA is definitely something you should consider. Some people are too impatient and don’t want to see their money locked for months, but it is worth it every now and then.

Remember, your main goal is to find bets with a positive expected value, and some NBA season-long markets offer exactly that. The list includes various props, futures, and outrights that are often quite interesting.

The main reason we believe there is value is the motivation behind the majority of the bets placed. A ton of people back their favorite team or player, overestimating their abilities. Others simply believe that it’s about guessing, and they back the most likely winner.

As a result, the bookmakers often adjust to the demands of the customers and move the lines and odds. This creates opportunities that a smart bettor could use to make some money. While they don’t pop up as often as in NBA game betting, that doesn’t mean you should miss them.

You should learn how to prepare for season-long wagers and make the most of them.

Betting on the NBA Playoffs and Finals

We covered the regular season, individual games, and futures, so it’s only natural to take a closer look at the NBA playoffs and finals too.

If you’ve been watching at least a couple of seasons of the competition, you certainly know how important that is. After all, the grand finale of the NBA is a completely different animal from the regular season.

The early part of the campaign is all about teams getting decent results while keeping their roster fresh. Protecting their important players from injuries and not accumulating fatigue is sometimes more important than winning.

In the playoffs, they are in a different situation. They have to get the best out of their team and have to do it immediately or else they’ll be gone. The top NBA teams always prepare with the mindset that they should peak during the playoffs.

On top of that, the whole style of the game is different. The defense matters more, the pace is slower, and it’s more physical. The referees are stricter, and there’s a lot of pressure on everyone involved.

You should adjust your betting habits. What worked during the regular NBA season might not be valid for the playoffs. You have to prepare properly for the culmination of each season individually but also have in mind a couple of general rules that apply.

The Use of Stats and Trends in NBA Betting

One of the huge advantages of NBA betting is the access to information. You can go online and dig out all kinds of data for every team and player. The NBA official page alone will provide a ton of stats that can help you out.

With such easy access to various useful information at your disposal, you should always consider the data when conducting your research. While the numbers alone are not enough to find valuable betting opportunities, you can’t afford not to include them.

One of the biggest arguments that stats matter is the fact that all NBA betting sites calculate the prices you see by using a large amount of statistical data and analyzing it through a couple of models. Sure, they add some other factors to the end result, but the raw numbers are the basis.

You should be following a similar pattern by deeply analyzing the stats. They will show you the general state of each team and player but also help you identify trends.

The Effects of Public Betting on the NBA Lines and Odds

We’ve mentioned the popularity of the NBA a couple of times already. Sometimes it works in your favor; sometimes it doesn’t. The fact is that there are millions placed in wagers on every single game from the league.

Most of the money comes from recreational players who are not properly prepared and just follow their bias or what pundits tell them. As a result, the NBA betting sites adjust their odds to make sure they make as much cash as possible, and this creates a lot of line movement.

You will often see changes in the prices before the game starts. Sometimes, the movements are so drastic that there are opportunities for arbitrage betting and hedging.

Even if that’s not the case, you should always consider the public bets and their impact on the NBA lines and odds. If you are good enough at projecting what to expect, you will always be able to get better lines by betting early or late, depending on your targets.

NBA Live Betting Strategy

Basketball is one of the best sports for live betting, so our NBA betting strategy page would be incomplete without it. We dig deeper into important concepts that will help you recognize profitable opportunities and take them.

Our firm belief is that the NBA specialist can benefit greatly from live betting with the right approach. Combine your expertise with a calm and methodical approach by checking out our tips on how to prepare for live betting and how to overcome the difficulties that come with it.

As you can see, our NBA strategy page is focused on covering every possible angle. We help you find the most suitable approach in the war against the bookmakers and betting sites. Our advice is to review the full page and carefully read every section there.

NBA Strategies in Our Betting Lab

Our site has a special section called the Betting Lab. It’s the place where we develop various betting strategies from scratch and put them to the test. The main goal is to show our readers how to grab a raw idea and transform it into a successful system.

Naturally, the NBA is one of the leagues we included, as we believe the competition has a ton of potential. If you are interested in learning more about our ideas and checking our results, feel free to visit the GamblingSites.com Betting Lab using the link below.

NBA Format and Structure Explained

It’s hard to organize a sports competition in a country as large as the USA, especially if you add a couple of Canadian teams. It takes a solid structure for such a large project to work.

There’s a regional distribution because you can’t expect each franchise to travel thousands of miles on a daily basis. That would be inconvenient for the teams, the players, and the fans.

NBA Structure

Here is where the NBA structure comes into play. The 30 total teams are split into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

Each of them consists of 15 franchises that compete for eight spots in the playoffs for each conference. For further convenience, each conference has three divisions with five teams.

The teams from each division are close to each other from a geographical point of view, so they play each other more often for convenience.

The three divisions in the East are the Atlantic, the Central, and Southeast. In the West, you have the Northwest, the Pacific, and the Southwest divisions.

How the NBA teams are organized into divisions and conferences

NBA Team Guides

There are currently 30 teams in the NBA, and this has been the case for a while. That’s quite a lot, so it’s not easy to watch every single game and know details about each franchise. It will require a monumental effort for you to stay informed without using some extra help.

We can give you that help, as we’ve created a guide for each organization. Each one includes some history and also information on the current roster and the coach.

You can jump straight into the individual team guide of any franchise you are interested in. You will find the appropriate link in the table below.

NBA Regular-Season Schedule

The NBA season consists of two main parts: the regular season and the playoffs. It all starts with the regular season, during which each team plays a total of 82 games. 41 of them are at home, while the other 41 are away.

Each franchise faces the other four members of the same division four times through the regular season, six from the other teams in the conference four times, and the remaining four teams a total of three times. The simple calculations show a total of 16 games within the division and 36 within the rest of the conference, for a total of 52 games within the conference.

If you add the two games against each of the 15 opponents in the other conference, you get the final number of 82 games in total.

Once all teams have played their 82 games, the regular season ends. The eight teams with the best wins to losses ratio from each conference continue to the NBA playoffs.

NBA Playoffs and Finals

From this point on, each conference determines a champion, and the best team in the East faces the best team in the West for the NBA Championship.

The structure of the playoffs is simple and consists of three rounds. Each of them includes knockout match-ups in the 4 out of 7 format. It means that a team must win four games to eliminate the opponent.

In the first round of the playoffs, the 1st seed in the regular season faces the 8th seed, the 2nd faces the 7th, the 3rd faces the 6th, and the 4th meets the 5th. Once the round is done, there are two more, until only the champion of the division is left. During every stage, the team with a higher seed has the home court advantage.

If you feel confused about the format, the following graphic will easily illustrate how it works.

How the NBA playoffs are structured

As you can see, the whole season and the playoffs end with a battle between the Eastern Conference champion and the Western Conference champion. The team with a better regular-season record has the home court advantage, and the format of the clash is once again 4 out of 7 games.

NBA Salary Cap

One of the main traits of US sports leagues is the salary cap, and you can find it in the NBA, too. It allows the teams to stay relatively competitive, as each franchise has the same budget for player salaries.

The whole system used by the NBA is complex, as there are some exceptions that allow teams to go over the cap. Despite that, the balance in the league is rather solid, as you won’t see an organization dominate the competition for decades.

NBA Draft Lottery

Another reason why the NBA stays competitive is the draft lottery. Each year, the brightest talents enter the NBA through a recruitment process called the draft.

The teams from the league take turns picking rising athletes, and the order is determined by a lottery. The franchises with the worst records have the highest chances of getting the early picks. The main concept is for them to grab the strongest prodigies available and catch up with the rest of the league.

NBA History

There were many basketball competitions in the US early on, but they stuck to isolated regions and failed to gather nation-wide attention and recognition.

A slow change came after 1946 when the Basketball Association of America, or BAA, was founded. It focused on attracting teams from America’s and Canada’s biggest cities, and the strategy slowly paid off.

The league started winning a lot of fans, and new teams joined the show. There were only white players initially, but African-Americans started dominating the competition in the 1950s.

There were less than ten teams involved in the early years of the NBA, but the number was constantly growing. The early generation of Boston Celtics was the dominant dynasty in the 1960s, and the league was the most popular basketball competition in the USA, by far.

However, a new threat emerged when the American Basketball Association or ABA was formed in 1969. The new competition started aggressively and signed a couple of top talents, putting the NBA dominion in danger.

The new tournament wasn’t able to compete for long, though. The NBA remained the leader on the market, and naturally, the best players and teams from ABA eventually joined their competitor. It’s important to note that the NBA adopted the 3-point rule from the ABA, where it was initially introduced.

The NBA continued to grow in the next couple of decades and expanded to 22 teams in the 1970s. At the end of the decade, the golden era of the NBA began. Stars like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordon joined the show in the next couple of years.

Years Number of Teams
1946-1947 11
1947-1948 8
1948-1949 12
1949-1950 17
1950-1951 11
1951-1953 10
1953-1955 9
1955-1961 8
1961-1966 9
1966-1967 10
1967-1968 12
1968-1970 14
1970-1974 17
1974-1976 18
1976-1980 22
1980-1988 23
1988-1989 25
1989-1995 27
1995-2004 29
2005- 30

The tournament’s popularity both inside and outside the USA skyrocketed in the 1980s and the 1990s. The dominating forces in this period were the Boston Celtics, the LA Lakers, and Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Many consider these three teams as some of the strongest in NBA history.

Once the Chicago Bulls’ remarkable dynasty ended, it was time for things to change in the NBA. The competition has been much stiffer since, and many believe this is the start of the modern era in the league.

We’ve seen certain teams dominate for certain periods, but not like in the past. The Lakers, the Spurs, the Heat, and most recently, the Warriors all had multiple championships, but the league is more competitive now, and it’s harder to stay on top.

This is the brief history of the NBA from the day it was founded to the present, but there are a lot of exciting stories that we left out. If you want to truly dig deep and learn more about the tournament, we highly recommend that you check out our section dedicated to the history of basketball.

It contains a lot about the NBA but also about college basketball and the sport itself. Every fan of the game will be delighted by the details and stories there.

NBA Player Records

Let’s look at the top players in terms of championships won.

Most Championships
Bill Russel 11
Sam Jones 10
Tim Heinsohn 8
KC Jones 8
Tom Sanders 8
John Havlicek 8
Frank Ramsey 7
Robert Horry 7

NBA Coaches Records

We feel that we should also pay tribute to the greatest NBA head coaches. Their brilliant minds often create legendary dynasties.

Head Coaches With the Most NBA Championships
Phil Jackson 11
Red Auerbach 9
Gregg Popovich 5
Pat Riley 5
John Kundla 5
Steve Kerr 3
Chuck Daly 2
Alex Hannum 2
Tom Heinsohn 2
Red Holzman 2
K. C. Jones 2
Bill Russell 2
Rudy Tomjanovich 2
Erik Spoelstra 2


NBA Teams With the Most Championships

And finally, let’s look at the most successful NBA teams.

Teams With the Most NBA Championships
Boston Celtics 17
LA Lakers 16
Chicago Bulls 6
Golden State Warriors 6
San Antonio Spurs 5
Philadelphia 76ers 3
Detroit Pistons 3
Miami Heat 3

Why the NBA Is the Best Basketball League in the World

We usually prefer to avoid labeling any competition as the best in the world for a particular sport, but this case is different. The NBA is the top basketball competition around the globe by a distance, and it’s not really up for debate.

For a start, the game of basketball is extremely popular in the US. There are loads of kids who start playing from a young age, and there is an exceptional structure in schools, universities, and colleges.

The talented youngsters from the USA and all over the globe receive scholarships and the chance to grab a respectable education, developing their athletic gifts in the process. The best of the best among them reach new heights and join the NBA through the draft.

As a result, the most talented players in the world end up in the NBA at some point in their career. The sheer number of stars and superstars is incomparable to any other basketball league. Even the strongest competitions in Europe don’t come close to the talent pool in the NBA.

One of the big challenges in all sports tournaments is to keep it competitive, which is another area where the league succeeds. The salary cap, the draft lottery, and a couple of other mechanisms are designed in a way that keeps the NBA relatively balanced.

Sure, the bigger franchises still have a slight advantage, but even teams with a smaller fanbase and financial power can compete with some luck and good management. We’ve seen that happen before, and with the current system in place, it’s bound to happen again.

Another reason why the NBA is so popular and beloved among fans from all over the globe is the whole attitude that it should be entertaining. The All-Star Game and all the events that come with it, the constant dunks, and the desire not only to win but to make the public happy is what makes the NBA so great.

More on Basketball, NBA, and Betting

If you reached this point of our NBA betting guide, we are fairly certain that you liked it. If you want to read more useful content about the sport of basketball and the competitions, we have some useful links for you.

March Madness Betting Guide
The NCAA Division I is the leading college league in the world, and the future of basketball and NBA plays there. It all culminates in March Madness, a knockout tournament that features some stunning performances. If you want to learn more about that and find some useful betting advice, check out this page.
EuroLeague Betting Guide
The best European basketball competition deserves some attention too. It might not be at the same level as the NBA, but it does feature some exciting games and plenty of betting opportunities.
Basketball World Cup Betting Guide
The Basketball World Cup is an international basketball tournament featuring teams from all over the world. It only takes place once every four years, so it typically generates plenty of interest every time it comes around.
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