How to Bet on Basketball

One of the fastest and most exhilarating sports in the world, basketball is a great sport to bet on. Here at Unibet, we’re here to provide you with everything you need to know when betting on this sport.

Basketball is an international sport but most predominant in the USA, with the NBA serving as the basketball league. Europe also has some large competitions, including the Euro League and the popularity of the sport is growing rapidly in Asia too.

The highest accolade in Basketball is still a gold medal in the Olympics but there is also a World Cup held every four years. Still, at club level, the NBA remains the big draw and fans follow it from every corner of the globe. 

As one of the most accessible and simplest sports to bet on, there’s no wonder why basketball is a popular choice when it comes to bet online with. This guide will take you through the most popular betting markets for basketball, how to bet on the sport plus live streaming and in-play betting on basketball.


Basketball Rules

The rules of basketball are very simple, which also make it one of the best sports to watch and bet on. Basketball is based on a 5 vs 5 player format, played on a court, with the aim being to score points by throwing the ball through the opposition’s hoop.

To score two points, a player must score form the closest area around the hoop. To score three points – commonly known as a three-pointer, this is earned by throwing the ball from outside that area. One-point shots can be earned following a foul, with two shots being awarded per foul.

Once in possession of the ball, players must bounce the ball once every two steps, with something called a ‘shot clock’ - a timer hat ensures the player does not take possession of the ball for too long and encourages the fast-paced action that makes basketball so unique.

Each match consists of four quarters, each 12 minutes in length with matches generally taking 120 to 150 minutes. Matches  usually go on for longer due to timeouts, breaks and stoppages.

Most popular basketball betting markets

This action-packed and speedy sport features in the top 10 fastest-growing sports in the world. It is an incredibly intensive sport – each season sees over 1000 matches played in the NBA, giving you a great deal of choice when it comes to placing a bet.

Due to the nature of the game and the plentiful opportunities to score, compared to say football or hockey. Due to the sheer amount of points score, this reduces the randomness factor that is likely to be seen when betting on football. This is one of the reasons you’re more likely to see the stronger team win in basketball, as opposed to football.


How to Bet on NBA Games

If you’re just starting out as a player betting on basketball, you’ll probably place your bets on the outcome of a match. Simply put, this when a player chooses the team they think will win. With draws being impossible in basketball, this is definitely the simplest way to get stuck in to basketball betting. Your choices are as follows: bet on the home team (1) to win or the away team (2) to win.

If there’s a draw after the fourth quarter, the game goes in to overtime, where the winner is determined. Bearing this in mind, basketball betting markets often offer players a match bet that includes overtime.

Due to the way the scoring works, handicap betting is another hugely popular way of betting on basketball. With handicap betting working in two ways: either the weaker side is given a hypothetical advantage or the stronger team has points deducted. This ensures that the odds are equalised and therefore create an originally unbalanced match that is much more equal, should you wish to place a bet.


Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers. Unibet could offer you a ‘Handicap - Including Overtime’ bet, where Golden State will win by at least six points (-5.5) or that the Lakers won’t lose by more than five points (+5.5). Should you choose to bet on the Golden State Warriors with this handicap and they take the game by seven points, you have a winning bet. Pretty simple stuff. Betting with a handicap gives the player a chance to get longer odds or to make a dicey bet a safer bet.

With 220 points scored in any given game in NBA, it’s no surprise that over/under betting is also a very attractive market to bet on. With predicting the correct score or total points scored incredibly unlikely, over/under is the way to go in basketball.


Pistons vs Bucks. A player chooses to wager on whether or not the game will see more or fewer points. So, let’s say you bet on the match yielding +190.5 points, if 191 points are scored, you have a winning bet. As the average number of points scored in an NBA game is between 180 and 220 – over/under bets usually have odds around these figures.

Betting on the first quarter and first half result is also another choice you have when betting on basketball. If a team is off to a good start but may not have the stamina to secure a victory, this gives you an advantage of placing a winning bet. Similar to a match bet, where you bet on a team (1 or 2), you’re instead betting on the team that will be ahead during the first quarter or at half time

Betting on an individual player is also big business in basketball betting. Commonly, each team will have one outstanding player. Perhaps you decide to bet on Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks to be the top scorer for his side during a game. As an extremely strong point guard, Doncic’s odds of being the top scorer during a match would see some pretty short odds for this player but would lower the risk of you losing your bet. Betting on the top scorer is a wide-spread bet in basketball and is a good way of following a player, even if you’re not a supporter of his team.


Bet on Basketball with Unibet