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Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and the top professional league is the National Basketball Association (NBA). Some of the best and well-known athletes the world over play in the NBA. 

The NBA is also one of the most popular leagues to bet on, with no lack of betting options for the fast and furious action on the hardwood. 

NBA Live Odds


Online Basketball 

Not only do all online sportsbooks have NBA betting options, but because it is the top league in the world, it has the most betting options as well. From typical spread and totals bets to futures and proposition bets, there are many betting markets for the best basketball league on the planet. 

On top of that, many sportsbooks offer special bonuses and promotions for the NBA, and this is especially the case for the playoffs and NBA Finals

Rules and Gameplay 

Basketball Court

Basketball is played as a team sport, and in the NBA, it is five against five, with several substitutes available on the bench. The game is played on a rectangular court. For the NBA, the court dimensions are 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. 

There are two baskets on opposing sides of the court with the rim 10 feet above the ground.

The object of the game of basketball is to score the ball through the basket and get more points than your opponent. A made basket is referred to as a field goal, which is worth two points, and behind the three-point line, the field goal is worth three points. 

In the NBA, the three-point line in the corners is 22 feet and 9 inches from the basket, and everywhere else, the distance is 23 feet and 9 inches. A free throw after a foul is worth one point. 

In the NBA, the game is 48 minutes long, with four quarters of 12 minutes each. After the first two quarters, there is halftime. 

If the game is tied at the end of the game, there is an overtime period of five minutes, and there can be more than one overtime in games as it is played one team wins. 

The five main elements for the game of basketball are: 

  • Shooting
  • Dribbling
  • Passing
  • Rebounding
  • Defense

Players advance the ball by dribbling or passing to a teammate. When a player stops their dribble, they can then not dribble again or move their pivot foot, or it's a violation, and the other team gets the ball. 

The shots where a player can score are a jump shot, a layup, and a dunk. The defensive team tries to keep the offensive team from scoring the ball, and they can steal the ball, block the shot, or grab the ball after a shot, which is called a rebound. 

The defensive team cannot make too much contact with the offensive player, or they are called for a foul. 

If a defensive player is called for a foul while the offensive player is taking a shot, the offensive player gets two free throws if that shot doesn't go in. If it does go in, the offensive player gets the points for the made shot, plus one free-throw attempt. 

A team gets five non-shooting fouls per quarter, and then after that, each foul will result in two free throws. If a defensive player fouls a player when they are shooting a three-pointer, the offensive player is awarded three free throws if he doesn't make the shot. 

In the NBA, the league tries to protect its players. Because of this, there are different levels of fouls. 

For example, a flagrant 1 foul is beyond a regular foul, being more extreme, and a player is given a warning. If the player gets two flagrant 1 fouls, they are thrown out of a game.

They are also immediately thrown out of a game for a flagrant 2 foul, which is much more extreme. In the NBA, if a player is assessed six personal fouls, they are out of the game and cannot come back in. 

There are three types of fouls in the game of basketball, which are: 

  • Personal Foul: This is the most common foul where a player illegally contacts another player. Typically a personal foul is called on the defensive player, but there are offensive fouls that can be committed by the player on offense. 
  • Flagrant Foul: This is where the player is called for unnecessary contact where the referee sees the foul as excessive. If a player has two flagrant 1 fouls, they are thrown out of the game and immediately thrown out for a flagrant 2 foul, which is more brutal and dangerous to the player fouled. 
  • Technical Foul: This foul is not related to the physical nature of the game. Some of the ways a team can get a technical foul are arguing excessively with the referee, unsportsmanlike conduct, calling a timeout when the team has none left, and Illegal gamesmanship. 

How the Teams Work 

In the NBA (and all of basketball), there are the positions of players: center, power forward, small forward, shooting guard, and point guard. The center and power forwards are typically the taller players that play in the paint, from the free-throw line to the basket, while the small forwards, shooting guards, and point guards are smaller players that play outside the paint. 

The point guard is referred to as the floor general and runs the team, dribbling the ball most of the time and trying to set up other players to score. 

One thing that has changed in the NBA over the last couple of decades is positionless basketball. This is because it flaunts the typical ways positions are played. 

For example, in the NBA these days, it is common for the point guard to be the leading scorer and for centers and power forwards playing outside the paint and shooting three-pointers. 

There are positions in basketball, and players are matched up against similar positions from the opposing teams. Teams can choose to play man-to-man defense or zone defense. 

Man-to-man is each player defending another player, while zone is playing in a zone and defending an area. The game starts at the center of the court, with the referee tossing the ball up between two opposing players called the opening tip with them trying to control the ball to get the first possession. 

Strategy and Tactics 

Basketball is a game that has many strategies and tactics, and this is especially the case in the top league in the world in the NBA. There are not only strategy and tactics for teams in the NBA but also bettors making wagers on games in the league.

When it comes to team strategies for the NBA, a team can play to their strength, which is playing solid defense or having a high scoring offense that will outscore the other opponent. 

For example, teams in the NBA that like to get out and run and take a lot of shots simply shoot the ball often. A team such as the Golden State Warriors in their recent dynasty, with their great shooters such as Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, scored more than their opponents en route to three NBA titles.

Much of the team strategies and tactics come from the head coach and other coaches. They devise strategies and schemes to score the ball and keep the opposing team from doing so. 

The head coach is also the one that makes substitutions in the game to try to get the best matchups possible. They draw up plays and control the game with the players that are in the game at the time. They can also control the pace by setting the tone of the game and by calling timeouts. 

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History of the NBA 

Before touching on the history of the NBA, the game's overall history goes back to the later part of the 19th century. In 1891, James Naismith was a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School (YMCA) and wanted to keep his gym class active when they were forced inside due to the weather. 

He came up with the rules for a game of basketball and nailed a peach basket to an elevated track, and the game was born. 

The first version of the NBA was established on June 6, 1946, in New York City with the Basketball Association of America (BAA). Three years later, the league changed its name to the NBA when they merged with the National Basketball League (NBL). 

At first, there were 17 franchises in the league, which dwindled to 11 in 1950, and in 1953-9154 to eight franchises in the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Warriors, Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, Fort Wayne Pistons, Tri-Cities Blackhawks, and Syracuse Nationals. 

Japanese-American Wataru Misaka actually broke the color barrier in the NBA playing for the New York Knicks in the 1947-48 season. Harold Hunter became the first African-American to sign a contract to play in the NBA in 1950 but was cut in training camp. But that season, other African-Americans played in the league. 

In 1957, rookie center Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, who already had future Hall of Famers in player Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach. The team dominated the next decade and a half, winning 11 NBA championships. 

The Chicago Packers became the ninth team in the NBA in 1961, and from 1966 to 1968, the league expanded from nine to 14 teams, adding the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics, San Diego Rockets Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns.

In 1967, the NBA started to compete with the ABA (American Basketball Association), which began to gain in popularity and was signing some of the biggest stars out of college. In the 1970s, the NBA continued to expand, and in 1976, the ABA and NBA merged. Four teams from  the ABA were absorbed into the NBA. In 1979, the three-point line was established.

In the late 1970s, the NBA was having problems, with the main reason being the decline in TV ratings. However, the league surged in popularity in the early 80s when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird joined the league along with Michael Jordan a few years later. 

Bird and Johnson would help create the biggest rivalry in the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, and each won multiple titles in the 80s. Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won six titles under legendary head coach Phil Jackson in the 1990s. 

The league got another surge of popularity after it was announced in the early 90s that players from the NBA could compete in the Olympics. In 1992, the Dream Team was created with the likes of Bird, Jordan, and Johnson leading the way. All 11 NBA players that were on the team are in the Hall of Fame. 

The NBA has remained extremely popular with a season that runs from October to June every year. 

As of 2020, there are 30 teams in the NBA with 29 in the United States and one from Canada. There are two conferences in the Western and Eastern Conference. After every season, 16 teams qualify for the NBA playoffs, with eight from each conference. 

The NBA playoffs last two months, and in the end, the team that emerges from the Western Conference faces the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, which is a best-of-seven game series. 

The 30 teams in the NBA are: 

Eastern Conference

  • Atlanta Hawks 
  • Boston Celtics 
  • Brooklyn Nets 
  • Charlotte Hornets 
  • Chicago Bulls 
  • Cleveland Cavaliers 
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Indiana Pacers 
  • Miami Heat 
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • New York Knicks
  • Orlando Magic 
  • Philadelphia 76ers 
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards

Western Conference 

  • Dallas Mavericks 
  • Denver Nuggets 
  • Golden State Warriors 
  • Houston Rockets
  • LA Clippers 
  • Los Angeles Lakers 
  • Memphis Grizzlies 
  • Minnesota Timberwolves 
  • New Orleans Pelicans 
  • Oklahoma City Thunder 
  • Phoenix Suns 
  • Portland Trail Blazers 
  • Sacramento Kings 
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Utah Jazz 

Wall of Fame

When speaking of the Wall of Fame for the NBA, it is the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. There are over 400 players, coaches, and executives in the NBA Hall of Fame. 

It is hotly debated that Michael Jordan is the player that is the GOAT Greatest Player of All Time, but, again, that is highly debated. Other players that are often in that conversation are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, LeBron James, and Oscar Robertson. 

The official NBA logo has a Hall of Famer in Jerry West, who has also been a great executive. The NBA's 50 Greatest Players were unveiled for the NBA's Golden Anniversary season in 1996.

Although that list was packed with Hall of Famers, there have been plenty of players who may have made the list if it was done today. Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan. Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Garnett would certainly be listed, to name just a few. 

Distinctive Elements 

The NBA has many distinctive elements, but the biggest one has to be that it is the best basketball league in the world. The game is now global, and the NBA is hugely popular all over the world. 

Another distinctive element points to the global popularity of the game, with so many international players now in the league. From the legendary Dirk Nowitzki to the rising start of Luka Doncic, many Europeans and players from the world over compete in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo is from Greece and won the 2019 MVP award, and Doncic won the 2019 Rookie of the Year award and is a candidate for the 2020 MVP. 

Another distinctive element was touched on earlier in positionless basketball. No longer are centers and power forwards down near the basket and guards only on the perimeter. 

The game is different these days, with the big guys being deadly shooters and guards only being the smaller players that don't mix it up inside. 

Basketball Statistics

There are lots of NBA statistics used to measure a player's and team's performance but can also be used by NBA bettors. There are team and player stats that are factored into how coaches play certain teams and how they defend certain players. 

They are also looked at when it comes to seeing if a player is worthy of the Hall of Fame. NBA stats are also something that needs to be closely looked at when NBA bettors handicap games. 

Some of the important team stats are winning percentage, home winning percentage, away winning percentage, points per game, and opponents' points per game. 

For player stats, the important ones are points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game. Some of the stats are pretty self-explanatory, but there are other more complex ones, such as personal efficiency rating and performance index rating. 

Popularity and Cultural Impact 

The popularity of the NBA is huge in recent times, which is why it has a huge cultural impact on our society. The stars in the NBA are some of the biggest sports stars the world over, and two of the biggest are LeBron James and retired legend Michael Jordan. 

The NBA players and the league itself also strives to have a cultural impact in the community with many programs that help out many people. This is not just for basketball such as youth and international NBA programs but also for promoting and helping good causes and worthy charities. 

Basketball is seen as the second most popular sport in the world, trailing only soccer. And the NBA is the top league for that sport, and the league's popularity continues to soar. 

NBA games are shown worldwide, and there are tons of fans around the world, not just in the United States. From humble beginnings with only eight franchises to a multi-billion dollar business, the NBA is thriving, and there is no end in sight for the best basketball league on the planet. 

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