The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most popular and competitive basketball league in the world, packed with superstars from across the globe.
30 teams are split across two conferences, each containing three divisions, playing 82 regular season games before the post-season playoffs. This busy schedule results in plenty of betting opportunities across the season – as well as within each game itself.
From straightforward money line bets to points spreads, over/under bets and a ton of prop bets and parlays, the numerous betting markets for any NBA game allows smart gamblers to find value in any number of areas.
So, whether you have the basketball brain to see something the bookies have missed, or just want to wear your heart on your sleeve and bet on the Pistons, there are plenty of different ways you can bet on the NBA!
Get the Best Odds for Your NBA Betting Strategy
Finding the best odds is a crucial part of successful sports betting, and we’ve got some together for you right here.
About the odds
Odds in the NBA change constantly, driven by the total money wagered as well as fluctuations in player form, health and many other factors.
Odds can be expressed in a few different ways, known as ‘Decimal’, ‘Fractional’ or ‘American/Money Line’.
- Decimal: odds are represented by a figure, e.g. 1.85, which denotes how much would be won for each single unit wagered. For this example, a $1 bet would return $1.85.
- Fractional: these odds show the amount returned for a specific bet. E.g. odds of 3/2 (or, 3 to 2) would return $3 for every $2 wagered.
- Money Line: these are displayed as either ‘+’ or ‘-‘ numbers. A ‘+’ money line, e.g. +120, shows how much profit you would win for a $100 wager. A ‘-‘ moneyline, e.g. -120, shows how much you would need to wager to win $100.
When online gambling in Michigan you’re able to choose how odds are displayed, so just use whichever method you’re most comfortable with.
The most important thing is to learn to recognize value by noticing when odds are in your favor.
As a basic example, if you feel a Pistons win is the most likely outcome, but money line odds are showing a ‘+’, or decimal odds of over 2.00, it means the bookmakers have them as underdogs. That means more value for you, so go bet on the Pistons!
Odds are used to express the likelihood of everything from specific events in a game to the eventual winners of a division, conference, award or championship (these overall winner bets are known as ‘futures‘ or ‘outright‘ markets).
NBA Sports Betting in Michigan
It’s completely legal betting in Michigan on the NBA, so here are a couple of quick tips to help perfect your NBA betting strategy.
It’s fun to bet on your local team, but it can also be a wise move as it’s likely the team you know most about. You’ve probably learned a lot about the team just by watching them as a fan for so long. Use what you’ve learned to spot the opportunities to get the most value from your wagers. Want to win some more? Learn some more!
Which Bets, and Where?
What type of bet you make depends on where you see the most value, but there are other things to consider too. For example, if you enjoy ‘making it interesting’ while watching the game, you might consider short-term bets such as player props: betting on total points, rebounds, assists, 3-pointers made, etc. for a certain player in a certain game. Or, if you have an eye on the bigger picture, perhaps an outright wager on the season MVP, divisional champs or Rookie of the Year might be what you’re looking for.
Whatever you bet on, you want to get the best return on your winning bets, and that’s where your choice of bookmaker can make a big difference. You always want to get the best odds, which is why we recommend signing up to a few different sites to ensure you always have multiple options.
The Most Common NBA Betting Markets
Also known as the betting line or a handicap bet, for this popular wager the bookmakers predict the final points margin between two teams. If the Pistons are listed as +5.5, for example, they will ‘cover the spread’ if they win the game, but also if they lose by 5 points or under. Handicap bets like this can reward you when a team performs better than expected, even if they lose the game.
A straightforward wager on which team will win the game.
Point Totals (over/under)
A bet on the total amount of points scored in a game, by both teams combined. This is usually expressed as a number, e.g. 200.5, with bets placed on a result either over or under that number (hence the term ‘over/under‘) paying close to even money.
Short for ‘proposition bets‘, props focus on a specific event and outcome. Examples include player props such as how many points, turnovers, steals, etc. a specific player will record, as well as other props such as final winning margin, first team to 10 points, will it go to overtime, or which team will win the quarter, half or tip-off.
A combination of different wagers, within the same game or across completely different games. For example, if a team has a dominant big man you might want a parlay on his points scored as well as his rebounds. Or if you see two strong teams facing weaker opposition, a parlay on both to win could be a wise move. The benefit of parlays is that your odds are multiplied, so even betting on favorites can be more profitable than you might think.
Futures and Outrights
These ‘bigger picture’ wagers usually look beyond a single game to predict the outright winner of a specific category. A common category is the NBA Championship, as well as conference and division winners, but others such as season MVP, Rookie of the Year, post-season MVP or Defensive Player of the Year can also provide some fun NBA betting opportunities.
NBA Live Betting
Live betting is a great way to add some spice to the mix while you’re watching the NBA! As the name suggests, these are wagers you can place while the game is being played.
Sometimes you can determine a great value wager by studying the numbers beforehand. But at other times, you can see the game developing in front of you and are able to identify opportunities as they arise.
Perhaps you can see a star player losing confidence, or you’ve noticed the referees seem especially fussy in this particular game? Live betting lets you use the knowledge you pick up watching the game to your immediate advantage.
The NBA in Michigan
Michigan had a few pro basketball teams before the NBA was founded, but in the modern era the Detroit Pistons are the state’s sole representatives in the NBA.
The franchise has long held a reputation for producing tough, physical teams, which served the Pistons well during their three Championship-winning seasons (1989, 1990, 2004).
Recent years have yielded few post-season success stories, with their last series win coming in 2008 when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
The 2020-21 NBA Season
The 2020-21 NBA season has been played in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, and follows a curtailed 2019-20 season during which the Pistons played just 66 games for a final record of 20-46.
The Pistons are a team looking to the future, with a core of fresh young talent including Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart showing promise and potential. However, a losing season means the team will once again miss the playoffs.
It’s been over 10 years since the Pistons reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and without a recognized superstar on the roster the team will be hoping to recruit some exciting young talent in the draft.
The BEST 50 Plays Of The Season
Given their name, it’s easy to assume the Pistons have always been located in the Motor City, but they were originally based in Fort Wayne, Indiana – their name came from the pistons produced by then-owner Fred Zollner’s local foundry.
Moving to Detroit in the late 1950s, the Pistons developed a reputation for hard-working, tough teams. Few Pistons teams embodied this image more than the Championship-winning ‘bad boys‘ group of the late 1980s, which featured future Hall of Famers such as Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman (not to mention the late Hall of Fame coach Chuck Daly).
The late 1980s, of course, was also the middle of the Michael Jordan era, and the battles between the Pistons and Jordan’s Chicago Bulls are still remembered as some of the toughest playoff series of all time. The Pistons famously developed a set of ‘Jordan Rules‘ to contain Chicago’s high-flying superstar, and the result was five Conference Finals appearances in a row (1987-91) including back-to-back NBA Championships (1989-90).
Aside from the Bulls, other notable Pistons rivals over the years include the LA Lakers. With their glamorous ‘showtime’ reputation, the Lakers are a great counterpoint to the traditionally gritty, blue-collar work ethic of the Pistons, and the two teams have met three times in the NBA Finals with Detroit winning twice.
Another Pistons rivalry that can’t go unmentioned is with the Boston Celtics, who spent much of the 1980s fighting off the challenge of the Pistons – both metaphorically and physically! On-court fist-fights were not uncommon during the heyday of the teams’ rivalry.
Pistons this season
The Pistons have been one of the league’s worst performers in 2020-21, sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Star players Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin departed partway through the season, the latter after several injury-plagued years, leaving the Pistons with just a few veteran players and a core of young talent.
One cause for optimism has been the emergence of forward Jerami Grant, who joined the franchise at the start of the season. Grant’s breakout season has seen him lead the team in scoring with over 22 points per game, including a career-high 43 versus the Bulls in February 2021. Center Mason Plumlee, another recent acquisition, leads the team in rebounds.
The team also added Canadian point guard Cory Joseph to the roster in March 2021, to try and fill the backcourt gap left by the departure of former all-star Derrick Rose.
NBA Betting Strategy for Beginners
With many different sites now offering legal betting in Michigan, getting started betting on the NBA is easy. Here are a few quick tips to consider.
Start with what you know
Many fans bet on their local team, but don’t assume they’re just being sentimental. If you know more about one team than all the others, use that knowledge to find profitable opportunities.
Check the stats
Basketball is a statistics-heavy sport, and the good news for gamblers is that those statistics are easy to come by. Use those numbers to spot patterns, strengths and weaknesses, and bet accordingly.
Find the value
Successful sports betting isn’t always about picking the winner, but about finding the value in the odds you’re offered. If you think a team has a 40% chance of winning, but the bookies give them only a 25% chance, then that’s value. Exploiting those gaps will pay off in the long term.
Win bigger with parlays
Parlays pay off bigger because they require more than one predicted outcome, but some outcomes can be related. For example, if one team has a dominant big man that the other team can’t stop without fouling him, you might consider a parlay involving his total points, total rebounds and total free throw attempts. Parlays can be combined in all sorts of ways, so get creative.
Take everything into account
In the NBA, the strongest team doesn’t always win. Make sure you factor in elements like home court advantage, recent injuries, arguments or problems within the organization and even players’ activity on social media, as all kinds of elements can affect a game’s result.
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