How to Bet the NBA Playoffs: A Guide for First-Time Bettors


The NBA Playoffs are nearly upon us, with the opening round scheduled to tip-off Saturday, April 16. While experienced bettors are gearing up for what should be an entertaining postseason, there may be those looking to delve in for the first time.

If you’re one who falls into the latter category, you have come to the right place. Below, I have provided an introductory betting guide to help navigate the postseason waters. I hope this provides a little insight for the start of your betting journey!

All odds and betting lines are provided by FanDuel Sportsbook.

Betting Series Winner

One of the common wagers bettors will make is simply who will win the best-of-seven series.

For example, the Denver Nuggets are listed as +225 underdogs in their series against the Golden State Warriors, meaning a $100 bet would carry a payout of $325 ($225 in profit) if Denver upsets the Dubs and advances to the second round. This is a simple wager for first-time bettors in that success is dependent on the outcome of the entire series rather than individual games.

This leads me to the next type of wager…

Betting Individual Games

If you are not confident in the Nuggets besting Golden State in a seven-game series, there are several bets you can make on single-game matchups, primarily the spread, moneyline, and total.

Let’s take Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls, for instance. Current odds have Chicago at +10 (-110) on the spread and +420 on the moneyline, with the game total set at an over/under of 228.5 (-110).

Were you to bet the underdog Bulls on the spread, they do not have to win the game, rather, they just need to lose by ten points or less for your ticket to be a winner ($110 bet = $210 payout/$100 profit).

Now, if you take DeMar DeRozan and company on the moneyline (+420), you’re gambling that Chicago wins Game 1 regardless of the margin of victory ($100 bet = $520 payout/$420 profit).

Finally, the over/under game total is simply betting on the combined points scored between both teams. Do you like the Bulls and Bucks to score more than 228.5 points combined in Game 1? Then consider betting the over. If not, take the under.

Player Props

Another interesting betting option, amongst several others, is player props. In these instances, you are betting purely on individual performances, specifically, whether or not a player meets a certain statistical benchmark.

Referring to the Utah Jazz-Dallas Mavericks series, oddsmakers at the FanDuel Sportsbook have set Donovan Michell’s Game 1 scoring prop at over/under 26.5 points (-120 over/-102 under). This means Mitchell would have to score more than 26.5 points or less than 26.5 points for a winning ticket, depending on which option you bet.

These types of bets add even more of a rooting interest, especially if overall team results are not going your way.

Picks and predictions are courtesy of SportsGrid.

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