Beginners Guide to Basketball Betting

In our review below, we explain all of the essential factors you need to know about betting on basketball. Following our guidelines, you will learn how to bet on basketball games and win.

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Understanding the Rules

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Before getting stuck into the betting side of things, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of basketball rules. Luckily, the rules of basketball are relatively straightforward.

Basketball is a team sport played by two competing teams of five players. The game is played on a rectangular court to shoot a ball through a hoop 10 ft off the ground. Each team has their own hoop at opposite ends of the court.

The basketball court is divided into two smaller sections by a mid-court line. Players must pass the mid-court line within ten seconds of the ball being put into play. Failing to do so will see the ball turned over to the other team.

After crossing the mid-court line, the attacking team can no longer backtrack behind the mid-court line. If they do, the ball is overturned.

The ball is progressed up the court by either passing or dribbling. The defence must try to win the ball back by stealing the ball, contesting shots, deflecting passes, and collecting rebounds.

Point Scoring

Making a basket is worth two points and turns the ball over to the other team. Baskets or field goals made outside of the three-point arc are worth three points, and a free throw is worth one.

Free throws are given to a team based on the kind of fouls committed or the frequency of fouls. When a shooter is fouled, they will receive either two or three free throws depending on the location of the shot. Fouls beyond the three-point line will result in three free throws.

‘Team fouls’ only result in a free throw when a certain number has been accumulated throughout a half. When the necessary total is reached, the last player fouled is given a ‘1-and-1′ chance. If they successfully make the free throw, they will be given a second attempt. If the first shot is missed, the ball becomes live on the rebound.


The game is divided into 12-minute quarters. There is a break period of several minutes between the second and third quarter. If the score is all level at the end of the allotted game time, overtime is played until there is a winner. However, in some leagues, each quarter is 10-minute long.

Basic Terms

Compared to some other popular sports, Basketball is relatively easy to understand. But while you can grasp the broad strokes of the game in an instant, it may take a while until you get the lingo and intricate nuances of the game rules. Here are some of the most popular basketball terms explained.

  • Back Court – The backcourt can refer to the guards on a team. These players defend against the opponents scoring any points. The term may also refer to the area of the basketball court on your side of the half-court line.
  • Backboard/Glass – The backboard is the rectangular board behind the hoop in which each team is trying to score. Because most backboards are made of plexiglass or tempered glass, they are also referred to as glass. The area close to the end of the court is also sometimes called the backboard. For example, a coach can tell a player to go to the backboard to make a rebound attempt.
  • Assist – An assist is a pass of the ball to another player that results in a score. Historically, assists were any pass that precedes a score. Today, the definition is a bit stricter. The less action a player has to take to score after receiving the ball determines whether the pass was an assist or not.
  • Force – Force refers to a player who takes a shot too early in the clock. This is called “forcing” a shot. It may also describe a scenario when the defence makes an opposing player move in a particular direction. For example, a defender may force an opposing player to dribble away from the basket.
  • Walking – Walking or carrying the ball refers to a player taking too many steps without bouncing the ball. It can also literally refer to a player walking up or down the court while the ball is in play.

Where to Find Basketball Betting Websites?

There are lots of top sportsbook websites offering basketball betting markets for you to bet on NBA games. It isn’t difficult to find the top-rated bookmakers for basketball betting. There are loads of great resources comparing various aspects of each platform. Always make sure that any sportsbook you choose to use is reliable and trustworthy before entering personal information or making a deposit.

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What Are the Most Popular Basketball Competitions?

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Basketball has a wide variety of competitions across the globe, attracting millions of fans and bettors.

The following section will detail some of the most viewed and respected competitions in the sport.

National Basketball Association

The NBA is, without a doubt, the best-known basketball league in the world. The North American league comprises 30 teams, 29 American and one Canadian and has been running for over 70 years. It features world-renowned names like the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and the LA Lakers.

National Collegiate Athletic Association March Madness

This is a single-elimination tournament held each year in the US during March. 68 college basketball teams take part, and it is one of the most widely viewed basketball events in North America. The event is incredibly popular with bettors. The most successful college teams include UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Indiana.


This is the pinnacle competition for European basketball teams. The best clubs across the continent qualify annually and play each other during the week in a league then knock-out format. The most successful teams in EuroLeague history include Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Panathinaikos, and Varese.


The EuroCup is the second-tier competition in European basketball and is also run by the EuroLeague. Teams qualify for this competition depending on domestic league success and possible invitation from the EuroLeague. Teams who win the EuroCup qualify for the EuroLeague the following season. The most successful teams in EuroCup history include Valencia Basket, Rytas, Khimki, Real Madrid, UNICS, and Lokomotiv Kuban.

Liga ACB

This is the top tier Spanish league and was first formed in the late 1950s. The league features relegation for the two bottom sides at the end of each season and runs from October to May. 17 teams compete in the league each season. The most successful teams in Liga ACB history are Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. They have won the vast majority of league titles between them.

Turkish Basketball Super League

Also known as the BSL, the Turkish Basketball Super League was founded in 1966. It took place every year from October through to April. 16 teams compete in one of the most rapidly growing leagues in the world. Among the most successful Turkish sides are Anadolu Efes, Fenerbahçe, Eczacıbaşı, Galatasaray, and İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi.

VTB United League

This is the top tier in Russia and includes teams from neighbouring nations like Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. 13 teams compete from October to April each season. By 2021 the most successful team since the league was founded in 2008 is CSKA Moscow. Khimki is the only other side to win the division. UNICS and Lokomotiv Kuban also perform well on multiple occasions.

Basketball Bundesliga

The BBL is the top tier of German basketball and makes waves to become one of the top European leagues. There is strong support for the league and heavy marketing, and a crop of talented young players. The regular season takes place from September to May, with 18 teams competing. Bayer 04 Leverkusen are the most successful team in the league’s history, with other notable teams including USC Heidelberg, Brose Bamberg, Alba Berlin, and Bayern Munich.

NBA Betting – What Should You Know?

Before diving straight into basketball betting, there are a few essential aspects you should have an understanding of.

Understand Divisions and Conferences

The NBA is divided into an Eastern and a Western conference format. Each conference has 15 teams that are segregated into three divisions of five. These divisions are the Pacific, Northwest, and Southwest in the Eastern Conference and the Central, Atlantic, and Southeast in the Western Conference.

NBA Games Schedule

Every team plays every other team in their division four times to comprise the first 16 fixtures.

Each club is then matched against clubs from other divisions within the same conference. Four games against each of these teams are played to make a total of 24 games. Finally, each team plays the last four teams in the conference three times each. This makes for a total of 52 conference games.

Each team plays home and away against all the sides from the other conference to make 82 games in a regular season. The season starts in October and ends in April the following year.

NBA Playoff Games

The NBA playoffs start after the regular season ends and continue until June. The top eight teams in each division after the 82-game season qualify for the playoffs.

The playoffs are played out on a ‘best of seven’ basis. The first team to win four games advances to the semi-finals, where the same structure takes place. This continues until there is a winner of each conference.

The NBA finals pit the winners from each conference against each other in a best of seven final. The first team to win four games is the NBA Champion.

Short History and Facts

In 1891, a Canadian teacher at YMCA Training School decided to develop a game to keep students fit during winter. After several experiments, Dr James Naismith created the earliest version of modern basketball. At first, players scored into peach baskets that were nailed high on a wall. The referees had to fish out the ball after each score. Eventually, metal hoops and wooden backboards replaced the peach baskets.

The game soon spread to other American schools and universities. Today, over 47 million Americans are estimated to bet on the March Madness College Basketball tournament each year. More than 8.5 billion dollars are bet on the event. Collectively, the tournament exceeds the numbers generated by the Super Bowl.

Given those statistics for college basketball, it comes an as little surprise that the NBA Finals are among the most popular events to bet on in the world. In the state of Nevada alone, approximately 10 million dollars are wagered per game. 20 million viewers across the world tune in to watch the NBA Finals. Here are some exciting basketball facts you probably didn’t know:

  • As inconceivable as it may sound, basketball was originally played using a soccer ball.
  • The game was much shorter — two 15-minute halves, with a 5-minute half-time rest.
  • The game was flexible enough to include every person to play, so each side had a default 9 players.
  • Dribbling wasn’t allowed. Instead, players had to throw the ball from wherever they’d caught it.

Final Thoughts

Betting on basketball is like betting on any other sport in that knowledge and expertise will help guide your selections. The more clued up you are on the competition, betting markets, and selections, the more likely you will make value bets and turn a profit on your wagers. Become well-acquainted with all the relevant terms of the sport and the betting scene to better understand and make more informed decisions.

There are many resources and guides you can use online to help you become more adept at picking out strong bets. Learning through experience is perhaps the best way to develop your basketball betting skills. Keep an eye out for trends and evaluate each decision you make carefully.


What does 2.5 mean in basketball betting?

2.5 refers to the point spread market. If you back a team with a 2.5 spread, you bet that they will win the game by three points or more. Spreads are often presented with .5 decimals, so there are no ties or void selections possible. If a spread market uses a whole number and the team wins by that margin, no money is won or lost.

Which are the most popular bets in basketball betting?

Point spreads and totals are the two most popular forms of betting in basketball. Money line wagers, parlays and teasers are also popular with certain bettors.

How to bet on basketball?

Betting on basketball is relatively straightforward as long as you understand the game and have a strong grasp of your backing market. Your selections are unlikely to have many permutations, and often they include a binary outcome. There are plenty of useful guides that focus on basketball betting explained for novices.

What is NCAA basketball betting?

This is college basketball betting and is one of the most popular betting scenes in the sport. 68 college teams take part in the widely-watched March Madness tournament every year. It attracts a lot of attention from bettors around the world.

Why should I bet on basketball?

Betting on basketball is easy and can be very lucrative if you understand the sport. Unlike some other sports, the betting markets and selections are easy to keep track of and are suitable for beginners to get involved with. Basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, with betting markets aplenty.

What is money line wagering in basketball?

This is one of the more popular betting markets in the sport and is relatively easy to understand. The bookmaker offers a selection in money line wagering with shifting odds depending on the team’s perceived likelihood of victory.

Should I bet on NBA games?

The NBA is the most popular basketball league in the world, attracting audiences from across the globe. The best players and teams compete in the NBA, and as such, betting on the competition is extremely common. Most reputable sportsbooks will provide betting markets for the NBA, so as long as you enjoy basketball and want the chance to win some money, it is worth considering a bet on the NBA.

What is the best competition to betting on in basketball?

This is almost entirely dependent on what you feel comfortable betting on. The NBA is the most popular basketball competition to bet on due to its mass appeal and high quality. You may find a greater range of sportsbooks offer NBA basketball betting markets and selections as a result. You will also find many online basketball betting tips and sites with selections explained in detail for the NBA.

Kristiyan Kyulyunkov
Kristiyan KyulyunkovKristiyan Kyulyunkov specializes in bookmakers’ analyses. He has years of experience betting online and always keeps an eye on the different operators. His tasks in Nostrabet include writing, editing and publishing expert reviews.