NBA Betting Futures

Not many bettors like tying up their money for a long time, especially when it deals with NBA basketball. Futures to win next season’s NBA championship are often released by the sportsbooks before the current year’s NBA Finals are even decided, with the NBA Draft, free agency, summer league and training camp all yet to come. NBA futures can be a true long-term investment depending on when you bet on them, and wagering on the playoffs is also much different than during the grind of the 82-game regular season. 

The betting strategy with regards to the NBA postseason varies on an annual basis because the teams can obviously change a lot from year to year. Lately though, the league has become rather top-heavy, with the best teams who actually have a legitimate chance to win the championship limited to a very small group. 

Between the decade of 2009 and 2018, six different teams won the Larry O’Brien Trophy, with three of them repeating in consecutive years, including the Los Angeles Lakers (2009 and 2010), Miami Heat (2012 and 2013) and Golden State Warriors (2017 and 2018). In fact, the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Warriors four straight years (2015-2018) in the NBA Finals before LeBron James eventually decided enough was enough and bolted for the Lakers. James appeared in the NBA Finals eight years in a row between playing for the Heat and Cavaliers and won titles with both teams.

The crazy thing about James is that he has been a better fade in the championship round than most stars in recent memory. His teams have gone 3-6 in the NBA Finals and been swept twice, with Cleveland losing all four games to the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 and Golden State in 2018. The “best player ever” debate between James and Michael Jordan is only alive and well because of that losing record in the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Jordan is a perfect 6-0 and known to be the most clutch playoff performer of all-time. No matter which player you support more, most bettors would probably much rather put their money on Jordan than James despite the latter being dominant longer.

However, not every team has a Jordan or James, and not every team can win the championship, yet there are still several handicapping factors you should consider in an effort to win money before betting on NBA futures and playoff games. You could have wagered on a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves to make the postseason like they did in 2018 after a 13-year drought and cashed a nice ticket if you did your homework. Below are valuable tips to help make money betting NBA futures and come playoff time.  

Betting NBA Championship Odds

Taking the Warriors to win the NBA title between 2015 and 2018 was a good bet even when they ultimately fell short against the Cavaliers after blowing a 3-1 series lead in 2016. They have easily been the best in the West during that stretch, and it has not been close. But wagering on Golden State to win the Western Conference or NBA championship has not yielded the same typical profitable results you might expect when compared to other major sports like NFL football, MLB baseball or even NHL hockey.

With NBA future odds like any other wagers, a win is a win, and bettors should be more than happy with that no matter how much they are getting back in return. Finding a diamond in the rough like the Timberwolves to get into the playoffs is good enough to help you forget the fact that they were leading the Northwest Division at one point before fading down the stretch. But it will not happen often, especially when betting on NBA championship odds. There are few surprises in the end, with the same great teams competing for the title year after year as boring as it might be for anyone but their fans. 

The best bet is to try to predict where stars like James may end up (i.e. Los Angeles) in the offseason before they decide and then get better numbers before the odds change. While James’ first big decision did not work out right away when he took his talents to South Beach with Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010, it did lead to back-to-back titles for Miami in 2012 and 2013. Kevin Durant’s arrival in Oakland also pushed the Warriors over the top and resulted in another back-to-back run. Success betting NBA futures often comes down to guessing what will happen before it happens – and being right.

Betting NBA Win Totals

The hardest factor to consider when handicapping NBA Win Totals is the importance of rest for the elite teams in the league. When Golden State went all out to set the record for most regular-season wins in 2016 with a 73-9 mark, the team lost focus a bit in the NBA Finals and blew a 3-1 series lead to Cleveland. The Warriors learned that records like that do not mean much if the season does not end with a championship, and they won progressively less games the next two years en route to winning back-to-back titles despite adding Durant, who could have easily helped them win 70 again.

Going back to Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, pacing yourself as a championship contender has proven to be much more important in the long run. After the Bulls posted a 72-10 record for the previous most regular-season wins in NBA history and then won the title in 1996, they went on to complete a second three-peat in eight years with lower marks of 69-13 and 62-20 in 1997 and 1998, respectively. The Spurs under head coach Gregg Popovich have also been infamous for resting players during some of their five championship seasons, putting a bigger priority on being healthy for the postseason.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, “tanking” has become a real issue in the league as well, with bad teams becoming even worse down the stretch in hopes of landing more chances to win the NBA Draft Lottery. Not being motivated to win games is bad enough when these professional athletes are getting paid so much to play a game. But losing games on purpose takes this to another lower level altogether, which is why NBA commissioner Adam Silver has publicly stated that the league will monitor it more closely moving forward, and teams could face consequences for their actions. The bottom line is that bettors need to handicap these potential situations before the season when wagering on NBA Win Totals to make sure they do not throw their money away. That is why taking the under on NBA Win Totals for many teams appears to be the safer bet, because there are so many factors contributing to them possibly falling short.

Betting NBA Basketball Playoffs

In the NBA, there is the regular season, and there is the postseason for those eight teams in each conference fortunate enough to participate. The ultimate prize is a championship as the last team standing in June following the NBA Finals, but many younger teams also set smaller, more realistic goals for themselves simply to improve. Of course every team wants to win a title, but the odds of that becoming a reality for many is very slim, especially for those lower seeds just lucky to make the playoffs.

When betting on the NBA basketball playoffs, the main goal should be to pinpoint each team’s goals along with their motivation and chances to advance past each round. Series prices are fun to wager on and will change from game to game, with the favorite going in gaining some value if losing Game 1 at home in most instances. That is why the underdog remains a good play in many playoff series, particularly when the prices are fairly even between the two teams. Sometimes you can even manage to get plus-prices on both sides to guarantee yourself a profit no matter who ends up winning.

The zig-zag theory is a popular betting strategy used in the NBA playoffs where you wager on the team that lost the first game in the next and continue throughout a series. There is no guarantee of anything with sports gambling in general, but this strategy has stood the test of time and continued to be popular among many sharp bettors. Again, underdogs seem to have the most value to cover the spread off a loss in the previous game because coaches will make the proper adjustments to be more competitive. 

Home-court advantage does not mean as much as it did in the past, with many road underdogs managing to steal Game 1 over the years, putting tremendous pressure on the home favorites to bounce back in Game 2. In the end though, the cream of the crop usually rises to the top, with series upsets rare and the higher seeds more than likely moving on. Regardless, the best thing about wagering on the NBA playoffs is how much money can be made betting game to game if you handicap a series correctly.