NBA Playoffs Betting

• Basketball
• Sports Betting

How to Bet on the NBA Playoffs

The NBA regular season is over; the elite teams have secured their playoff spots, the betting stakes are about to get larger and you want to learn how to bet on the NBA playoffs. Whether you’re a fanatic, casual fan or newly interested in basketball, it has never been easier to place a bet on your favorite player or team online.

In this article we will help simplify what kinds of bets are out there, how they work and where you can get involved. Betting on the NBA Playoffs is similar to betting on the regular season, but there are also so many more unique bets worth looking into. Before we dive into how you can make money in one of the most booming global industries, you’ll first need to know some basics of the NBA Playoffs.

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Understanding the NBA Playoffs

We'll start by answering a few of the most common questions that newcomers usually have about the NBA Playoffs themselves. Then, with that basic information covered, we'll tell you how to bet on the NBA Playoffs.

How do the NBA Playoffs work?

The top 6 teams of each conference plus two additional teams decided by a play-in tournament (will touch more on that further on) are seeded into a tournament tree. The teams will face each other in best of seven series', basically the first side to get four wins advances. There will then be two conference finals, followed by the overall NBA final which is between the winner of each conference.

After the 8 teams of each conference are seeded, they will not be re-seeded. As opposed to the NFL post-season which will always see the 'best' team face the 'worst' in subsequent rounds.

How many games must a team win to beat an opponent?

With the new Play-In Tournament completed, the typical best-of-seven series can commence in the NBA postseason; Eight teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences must win four out of a maximum of seven games to advance to the next round of play. 

How long do the NBA playoffs last?

This year the NBA Playoffs will start on Saturday, May 22, and conclude no later than July 22. There are three rounds: First, Conference Semifinal and Conference Final. Then the NBA Finals, where the overall champion of the entire league will be crowned. This exciting time of year presents plenty of betting opportunities to new bettors and fans.

How many teams make the NBA Playoffs?

The NBA postseason is one of the most exciting and lucrative spectacles in sports. But you don’t have to wait until May. There are still ways to bet on the playoffs before they even start.

In each conference, four teams do battle in the Play-In Tournament. Their aim is to occupy the number seven and number eight seeds in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

The teams that finished seventh and eighth in the regular season will face off in a one-game playoff. The winner advances to take on the number two seed. The losers of the number seven and number eight game face the winners of a game between the number nine and number ten teams. The winner of that last-chance qualifier (lowest seed) advances to the NBA Playoffs to face the number one seed in their conference.

Western Conference

  • Golden State Warriors vs LA Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs

Eastern Conference

  • Boston Celtics vs Washington Wizards
  • Indiana Pacers vs Charlotte Hornets

NBA Play-Offs: Betting Types

Besides the unique betting opportunities that can be found in the NBA Playoffs, you can also bet on each game of the series. Choose the betting market that works best for you, and that you are most comfortable with. Here is an explanation of four betting market types:

NBA Playoffs Betting: Point Spread

The point spread is always going to be the first starting point for basketball bettors. It's a number that can be used as a gauge for what bettors can expect to see. Home court and superstar talent are very influential in determining outcomes of basketball games at any level. Spreads are a critical big piece in solving the potential puzzle of a particular game and they are the number everyone looks to beat first.

For example, consider a series between the Lakers and the Clippers. Say the Lakers were leading the series 3-1, they will be favored to win. This means it would be more beneficial to bet on the Clippers since they are less likely to win. The number changes for each sportsbook, some give you the option to have them winning by six points or +6.

NBA Playoffs Betting: Over/Under

If you want to learn how to bet on the NBA Playoffs, you need to familiarize yourself with Over/Under bets. These are normally concerned with the total number of points that will be scored in an NBA Playoff game. In an over/under market, a sportsbook will predict a number for a statistic in a given game. Bettors wager that the actual number in the game will be either higher or lower than the prediction.

For example, if a sportsbook sets the over/under for the score of a game at 156.0 (combined total of points from both teams). A bettor could wager that the combined score of the two teams would be either more than or less than that number. If the combined score of that game was 156, anyone who had bet on "under" won.

It’s important to note that most sportsbooks will offer the same odds for both sides of an Over/Under bet, meaning that it will take a $110 bet to win $100. In this example, all you have to decide is whether or not the total number of points scored by the two teams will be more or less than 231.5.

It is also worth noting that regular-season games are usually more high-scoring than NBA Playoff games.

NBA Playoffs Betting: Money Line

If you are just interested in picking the outright winner of an NBA Playoff game, the moneyline is for you, although the price can be pretty steep and sometimes not worthy of a bet in big mismatched games. Betting the money line for a game is possibly the most simple way to wager on sports. Bettors just choose a team to win. If the bettor chooses the winning side, the sportsbook will pay the amount due. It’s really that simple.

For example, picture a series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat that is currently at 3-1 to the Bucks. Milwaukee will be favoured to win, but with the Heat being home next game they have an advantage. It would be more beneficial to bet on Miami since they are the road team in an elimination game.

NBA Playoffs Betting: Futures

A future bet is one that is placed on something that will happen at the conclusion of an event. In this case, it is predicting what will happen at the conclusion of the NBA Finals. The two most common NBA Finals future bets are:

  • Which team will win the NBA Finals?
  • Who will be named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player?

The future bet asking which team will win the NBA Finals is available throughout the regular season. If you want to bet on who will be named the Most Valuable Player, you will usually need to wait until the NBA Finals matchup is set.

NBA Playoffs Betting: In-Play Betting

NBA In-Play Betting has become extremely popular, especially during big events such as the NBA Finals. Sportsbooks will offer live bets for each game of the NBA Finals, and all of the betting types that we mentioned above will be offered.

Live betting is done quickly, which won't give you much time to conduct any research. However, it does give you a chance to hedge your bets or make up for losses that you have incurred previously in each game. You can bet on things such as:

  • Who will make the next basket?
  • Who will make the next dunk?
  • Which player will will make the next foul?
  • Who will win the quarter?

Basketball is one of those sports in which everything is happening very quickly and can change with the blink of an eye, this makes NBA in-play betting a very entertaining add-on to watching the play-offs. Its a favourite here at HowToBet.

NBA Finals Betting

Later on in the year, particularly in the later rounds of the NBA playoffs, money line bets can be the better option with point spreads in the single possession range (-1, -2, -3, etc), and going the money line route does allow the bettor a bit more margin of error relative to the few extra cents they'll have to lay.

That said, an NBA Finals Over/Under market works a little bit differently. In this case, the focus is on the total number of games that an NBA Finals series will go to.

NBA Finals Betting: Prop Bets

Prop betting became popular with the Super Bowl, but now many sports are embracing them. Sportsbooks will offer plenty of NBA Finals prop bets, and these bets are on things other than the final score or winner of a game.

Here are a few examples of NBA Finals prop bets:

  • The color of Gatorade dumped on the winning coach.
  • How many technicals will be given?
  • Who will make the most three-point field goals?
  • How long the National Anthem will be (any game)?

As you can see, there is a lighter side to be found in NBA Finals prop betting markets. Laying down one or two modest, fun bets alongside your more serious wagers can increase your enjoyment of the series as a whole. 

There are also more serious prop bets. Player props are particularly popular when betting on the NBA Playoffs. More casual NBA fans will perhaps only tune in to watch the more well known players and they may not be familiar with teams and their rosters enough to wager money on them. Instead they will opt to place bets around the players that they know. For example:

  • LeBron James to get 29.5 + points
  • Stephen Curry to make more than 7 3-point field goals
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo to make more than 4 blocks
  • Kevin Durant to make more than ten jump-shots

NBA Playoffs: Parlay Bets

NBA Playoffs parlay betting is one of the most popular types, this is because you can build high odds with outcomes that seem more likely. You can build same game parlays or parlay separate games. The most simple form is to bet on the moneyline for a selection of games.

The process of doing this is very simple. Just add all of your bets to your slip, enter your stake and select the parlay option.

How to Bet the NBA Playoffs Online

Sports betting continues to grow in the United States, and online betting is becoming increasingly available. If you understand how to bet on the NBA Playoffs, then you already know how to bet on the NBA Playoffs online. The markets and principles involved are exactly the same.

In order to be able to bet on the NBA Playoffs online, you will have to be in a state where online sports betting is legal. If you are, you can enjoy the convenience of making an NBA Finals bet from the comfort of your couch. DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet are three of the top online sportsbooks that will have bets during the NBA Playoffs.

NBA Playoffs Betting Tips and Strategies

If you are planning on betting on the NBA Finals, here are some betting tips and strategies that might prove useful:

Home Court Advantage Counts

Before betting on any given NBA Playoffs game, always look at where the game is being played. Home teams have an advantage as they are accustomed with the court and have the backing of the large majority of supporters. In soccer the fans are known as the '12th man' and in basketball, they can very much be the sixth.

A Clutch Player Can Decide It All

It is very important for basketball teams to be a fluid, well oiled machine. But equally important is teams having that clutch player to drag them through the trenches. We've seen plenty of these over the years. Players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant spring to mind. Nowadays, the NBA poster-boys are LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry to name a few. When looking at rosters, if one team has a standout player of this caliber, they could be game changing. Remember to keep that in mind when placing your bets.

Top Seeds are Top Seeds for a Reason

The top seeded NBA teams are the teams who have performed best in the regular season, in their respective conference. These teams are likely to perform well in the playoffs. When looking at outright betting on who may win the World Championship, always look at and consider the top seeded teams and avoid fifth seeded and below. Despite it being a possibility, the likelier outcome is a high seeded team going further.

Do Plenty of Research

This is a betting strategy that you should employ regardless of what sport you are betting on. You always want to be properly prepared before making any bets, and research is vital. While doing your research, you should be looking for past success in the NBA Playoffs as well as regular-season performance. Also make yourself aware of any injuries to key players who are set to participate, as those could have a huge impact on their team's chances.

Look at Recent Matchups

Even though teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences don’t play each other a ton during the regular season, those games can give you an idea of how the NBA Finals series will play out. Go back a few years, especially if the teams have many of the same players. Recent betting trends can always change, but it is a great place to start.


Some of us are visual learners, one of the most underutilized tools when it comes to understanding something is the power of video. On YouTube you can find a variety of DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports), betting and sports channels to help you better understand upcoming matchups. Whether you enjoy a more technical, by-the-numbers approach or more of a laid-back comedic style, there are a number of people who have been doing this for years giving out free information so take it!

Place That Bet!

If you are new to the world of sports betting, you are not alone. Whether it is your first or most recent bet, the fact is no one knows how the game will play out so make a decision and stick to it. The NBA Playoffs are an exciting time in sports and this is a unique opportunity in this day and age as a fan to be able to take part in the game.

Use all the tips provided to you in our NBA Playoff Betting Guide to bring home that big prize!

NBA Playoffs FAQ

What is NBA Playoffs?

The NBA Playoffs is a best-of-seven tournament that takes place after the conclusion of the regular NBA season.

When do NBA Playoffs start?

The NBA Playoffs started on May 22, 2021.

How many teams make the NBA Playoffs?

There are 16 teams in the NBA Playoffs.

Where can I bet on the NBA Playoffs?

You can bet on the NBA Playoffs with any of the online sportsbooks that operate legally in the US.