Betting on the NBA Playoffs

In the NBA, 30 teams play a regular-season schedule with the hopes of reaching the postseason.

Everything is on the line in the NBA Playoffs begin,. Teams compete for a chance to advance in the NBA Finals and win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

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How to Bet on the NBA Playoffs

There are multiple ways you can approach betting on the NBA Playoffs. Most of the following betting types will be offered on legal sportsbooks in the US.

NBA Playoffs 2021

Futures

A future bet is placing a wager on an NBA team that you believe will win the NBA Championship. It can be done before the season starts, in the middle of the season, or before the playoffs begin.

Sportsbooks will post odds for each team’s chances of winning the NBA Finals. Those odds will change as the team begins to play better or worse. The goal is to get your pick at the best price possible.

Moneyline

A moneyline wager is betting each game individually. You simply have to pick who you believe is going to win the game. But, unlike spreads, the odds for moneyline wagering can get expensive if it is a lopsided matchup.

For example, there are favorites in the first round who may have a moneyline of -220. So, you will have to bet $220 to win $100. On the other hand, it can be a great way to bet an underdog. Placing a bet on a team at +180 will earn you $180 on just a $100 bet.

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Spreads

Betting on the spread is one of the more common ways to bet on an NBA game. A sportsbook will set a spread that the favorite must cover, and the odds will stick closer to even than moneylines.

If the spread is -4.5 for the favorite, they must win by at least 5 points. Placing a bet on the underdog means they need to win or lose by 4 points or less.

Totals

Just as a sportsbook sets a spread, it will also set totals for each team. There will be team totals for each quarter, the half, and the entire game.

You can place a wager on whether or not the team, or both of the teams together, will reach a certain point total.

Parlay

In the NBA Playoffs, you will have games several series to watch until they reach the Finals. You can place a single bet on multiple games or bet on multiple outcomes in a single game.

Parlays will give you a better payout for your dime. However, all of your predictions have to be right in order for the ticket to cash. If you get three bets right out of your 4-leg parlay, it is still a losing wager.

Individual Props

The number of prop bets that a sportsbook has for the NBA Playoffs will determine on the quality of the sportsbook. Instead of betting on the outcome of the team, you will be able to place player prop wagers on the performance of certain players.

Make a bet on the over/under of how many points, rebounds, or assists a player will have in a game.

Live Betting

Live betting can be an engaging way to bet on the NBA Playoffs. Almost all sportsbooks will offer in-play wagering on the NBA Playoffs.

As you watch the game, the odds and lines will change based on what is happening. It can give you an advantage if you know what you are looking for or can react to momentum before the odds.

Bet on the NBA Playoffs

How many teams make up the NBA Playoffs?

Thirty teams make up the NBA, with an Eastern and Western Conference that splits up the teams. The top 8 teams from each conference will make the playoffs.

  • 1 vs. 8
  • 2 vs. 7
  • 3 vs. 6
  • 4 vs. 5

The NBA Finals will be between the winner of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Finals. Each round is a best-of-seven series.

The series are played in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, with the higher seed getting one more game at home.

What is the Play-In?

The play-in tournament was introduced in 2021. It has added a little more competition for the last two playoff spots in each conference. With the play-in, the 9th ad 10th seeds still have a chance to make it into the NBA Playoffs.

The 7 and 8 seeds play each other, with the winner of the game getting the 7th seed and move on to a series against the 2 seed in the playoffs

The 9 and 10 seeds play a win or go home game. Then, the winner gets to play the loser of the 7 vs. 8 matchup for the 8th seed in the tournament.

Betting on the NBA Finals

Tons of attention will be on all of the NBA Playoffs, but nothing is quite as exciting as the NBA Finals. The Finals will have more betting options and lines than any other series of the playoffs.

The final two teams left will battle it out for a championship. Home court advantage goes to the team with the better record.

Finals MVP

One of the biggest wagers going into the NBA Finals will be on the Finals MVP. The best player of the series, who will be on the winning team, will take home the MVP trophy.

Going into the Finals, sportsbooks will post odds for each player to win the MVP. The top names will have the best odds, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Steph Curry is a three-time NBA Champion, but has yet to win a Finals MVP.

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NBA Playoff Betting Tips

Here are some tips to consider when betting on the NBA Playoffs.

Injuries

The NBA Playoffs happen after a grueling season. Many players enter the postseason with injuries, some more minor than others.

Check to see which players are nursing an injury. If someone is not at 100%, it will have a huge impact on the series, which can be much more physical than the regular season.

Teams who have rested their players during the regular season may have an advantage.

Referees

NBA Playoff referees will be the top in the league. However, all of them will differ in their tendencies of how they prefer to call a game.

Does a certain referee call a lot of fouls? Or do they let the players play? You can even find stats of referees calling more games that hit the under or over.

Bet Against the Public

You may be used to sharp bettors moving the line. However, more people will be betting on the NBA Playoffs than the regular season.

Bets may pour in for popular teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks, because of their large fan base. In these scenarios, fading the public’s pick may be the best option.

Shop Lines

Depending on the state you are in, you will have multiple choices for sportsbooks. Create an account with each one so you have the option to bet with whoever has the best lines.

Picking between -110 and -120 may not seem like a lot, but it can quickly add up if you are consistently choosing the best odds.

Hedging Your Bets

The NBA Playoffs will create great chances to hedge your existing bets. Let’s look at a few ways you can do so.

Let’s say you put a future wager on the Lakers to win the NBA Finals during the season. If they reach the Finals, you can place another wager on the other team to win, which will give you a win/win scenario.

You can also use live betting to hedge your bets. If your pregame bet doesn’t look great, make an opposing live bet to control your losses. Live to bet another day! Or, if it is looking good, you can place a moneyline wager on the other team, which is another way that hedging your bets can create a win/win scenario.

Manage Your Spending

If you plan on betting the entire NBA postseason, be sure to go in with a plan on strategy. Just wildly placing bets can result in spending too much money.

Legal US sportsbooks will have tools for you to manage your spending, such as setting limits on your account. Stay up to date with your open bets so you know how much money you still have pending, especially when you are live betting.

NBA Playoffs History and Betting Facts

The history of the NBA postseason has been dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. These two teams account for 34 of the total 74 championships. Each team has won 17 championships.

Other team leaders include:

  • Chicago Bulls – 6
  • Golden State Warriors – 6
  • San Antonio Spurs – 5
  • Philadelphia 76ers – 3
  • Detroit Pistons – 3
  • Miami Heat – 3
  • Houston Rockets – 2
  • New York Knicks – 2

Only five 8 seeds have won the opening series. Plus, of the 74 titles, 50 have been won by the No. 1 seed, 16 by the No. 2 seed, and 6 by the No. 3 seed.

2021 NBA Playoffs

Betting on the NBA Playoffs FAQs

Is it legal to bet on the NBA Playoffs?

The legalities of betting on the NBA Playoffs depends on which state you are in. Some states have now legalized online sportsbooks and have safe betting sites.

What’s the difference between NBA MVP and Finals MVP?

The NBA MVP goes to the most outstanding player of the regular season, and the Finals MVP goes to the most outstanding player of the championship series.

Can I live bet on the NBA Finals?

Almost every US sportsbook will offer live betting on the NBA Finals. Lines will change as the game occurs, and streaming services are often provided.

Can I bet on who will win the NBA Finals?

Yes. You can place a futures wager on who will win the NBA Finals. The best prices will be before the season and will become more expensive for the top teams as time goes on.