The NBA regular season is the epitome of a daily grind. Baseball has it beat by doubling its schedule, but basketball wears on the body over an 82-game season.
Naturally, that’s led to the league switching up their schedules more than ever. It’s also leaked into player “load management,” where superstars take nights off to rest their bodies. That impacts ticket sales, daily fantasy sports, and of course, NBA betting.
The worst part of that aspect of the NBA is you often don’t see it coming. Late scratches are all too popular in The Association, and especially with quite a few games played out west, you can often get burned if you’re not paying attention.
Fortunately, that’s all about to come to an end.
The regular season is almost over, and the NBA playoff seeding is nearly official. The games that really matter are almost here, and sports bettors can finally rely on more concrete information.
On top of that, there are a number of ways to make money betting on the 2019 NBA playoffs.
The regular season is really just about the daily grind, picking your spots, and hoping to come away with a profit. NBA playoffs betting is a bit more versatile, offering up numerous avenues for bettors to peruse.
To get you ready for a fun (and hopefully profitable) NBA playoff run, let’s take a look at the top ways to bet on the NBA playoffs this year.
Play at the Best NBA Betting Sites
The first thing you need to do is to pick a few of the best NBA betting sites to use throughout postseason play.
I definitely think there is merit in having one reliable site you use above all others, but pricing is important during the playoffs, and not every website offers the same types of wagers.
There are loads of sports betting sites online that offer NBA playoff wagers, but you don’t just want a random site. You want sites you can trust that are safe, pay your money out, do it in a timely manner, offer competitive odds, and showcase creative props.
Here are the best sites for betting on the NBA playoffs.
I truly encourage you to go check these sites out yourself to see which ones you prefer. Bovada is known by most American bettors as being the best overall betting site, but every site on this list is reputable, pays out in a timely manner, and does a terrific job with odds/wagers.
Some have different strengths, too. MyBookie may take the cake in the wagers conversation, SportsBetting.ag often has some of the best props, and Bovada is just the most reliable site out there from top to bottom. Betway and 10Bet are both excellent sites in most areas; they’re just not available in the US.
The first way to make money during the NBA playoffs is to not lose it.
That sounds obvious, but I’m really talking about soaking up value. Not doing so leaves money on the table, so no matter what your bet is, compare and contrast with other sites before depositing and placing your wager. Then just make sure you stick to the safe and trusted NBA betting sites we vouch for.
Betting on NBA Playoff Games
The first and most obvious way to make money during the 2019 NBA playoffs will be to bet on the individual games.
This is the same as you would do it during the regular season, but the games mean more. Each team is going to give it their all every night, and they’ll also tighten their rotations. The home teams tend to be favored, and in the NBA, the higher seeds are typically the better bet to win the series (as well as the game).
I tend to believe series flow can help you gauge when it’s a good time to target individual upsets. Some series have interesting matchups that can give an underdog the leg up for a game or two, while game one is often a spot where the inferior team can surprise with a big win.
For this year’s playoff run, however, I think individual betting could be very complicated as the playoffs progress. I’m not sure top-seeded teams like Milwaukee, Golden State, Denver, and Toronto will drop many games (if any) in the first round, but there are several very good teams in the NBA playoffs this year.
Unlike past years, the playoffs are probably going to get very interesting as early as round two.
Assuming there aren’t any shocking NBA playoff upsets in round one (and the seeding holds firm), NBA fans are going to be graced with awesome matchups like Warriors/Rockets, Bucks/Celtics, and Raptors/76ers in the second round.
Whether you’re working with point spreads, moneylines, or the total, I think the first round should be relatively self-explanatory and fairly profitable. After that, however, you better do your homework if you’re going to consistently finish in the green this year.
Win Money With NBA Live Betting
Even after you place bets on NBA playoff games, you can still tack on extra value and/or hedge those bets with in-game wagers.
NBA playoff live betting is a thing, just like regular NBA live betting can be done throughout the regular season. It might be even more appealing, however, as teams are obviously playing for a lot and can often turn horrible deficits into crazy comebacks.
I’m certainly not suggesting you should bet on the underdog that’s down 25 in the first half every time, but that’s one example of a potential opportunity to win some money. It may make more sense to attack the point spread there, but as you can imagine, the moneyline would balloon to an egregious level.
Whether it’s the point spread, moneyline, total, or a variety of player and game prop bets, live NBA playoff betting is definitely something to check out.
NBA Player Prop Bets
I briefly touched on NBA props, and that’s another section all by itself where you can potentially make money during the NBA playoffs.
Again, there are NBA player, team, and game props all season long, but things only intensify during postseason play. There is an endless supply of game and team prop bets to attack during the playoffs, but the NBA playoff player props are especially inviting.
This year specifically, there could be wagers involving Russell Westbrook eyeing a triple-double, James Harden topping his season average, and so much more.
Each matchup gives way to its own special props every single game and for the duration of the series. It’s up to you exactly how to take advantage of that.
Predicting NBA Series Winners
After you bet on games, check out NBA playoff live betting, and consider some prop bets, you may want to stretch your neck and consider some series wagers.
The higher seeds are going to carry fat moneylines and will largely be a waste of time, while first-round upsets from #7 or #8 seeds just happen so infrequently. Still, this could be a very hotly contested NBA tournament, and I really don’t mind taking on some risk (more on that in a bit).
Regardless of what your approach ends up being, the basic idea here is that you don’t just have to throw caution to the wind on a nightly basis; you can bet on who wins the entire series as well.
It’s certainly the safer play if you want “guaranteed” money in backing the favored team. Just think of the days of LeBron James in the Eastern Conference. In hindsight, the guy literally made it to eight consecutive NBA Finals series, so no matter what series you backed him in, you were coming away a winner.
Is there even one lock throughout the playoffs as cemented as any series was with King James in it? I honestly can’t be sure this year, but I have to believe the likes of the Warriors, Rockets, Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, and 76ers are all escaping round one.
Denver is a total wild card, as they don’t have any playoff experience and will draw either the Spurs or Thunder. The 3 vs. 6 matchup is also completely undecided at the moment, so depending on which teams occupy those slots, that could be a tough call.
The field will be set in short time, so just refer to this NBA playoff picture page until then.
Target Rare NBA Playoff Upsets
I linked to a great NBA playoff upsets post Taylor Smith wrote back in 2017, and that has me wondering if there’s anything crazy that could happen this season. In addition, it naturally reminds me that spotting said playoff upsets can be insanely profitable.
Individual game betting tackles solo NBA playoff upsets, so pick and choose your spots as you see fit. As I mentioned, series flow and uneven matchups can often tease potential underdog wins, while even severely inferior teams can snag one random win in a series.
Depending on the situation (and price), there will always be an argument for someone like the Heat stealing a game against the Bucks or the Thunder snagging a win over the Warriors. The 2019 NBA playoff seeding isn’t official just yet as I write this, but you can start to map things out and decide when to strike once the series tip off.
What I’m really curious about here is which spots could be good for bettors to tap into insane value. To be more specific, where can you score an underdog that takes an entire series?
Scoring an upset here or there isn’t that difficult, but in a typically predictable playoff environment like the NBA tends to provide, nabbing series underdogs is an elusive notion.
If ever there was a year to go after this type of wager hard, though, this might be it.
I don’t think the Warriors will get ousted in round one, but teams like the Nuggets and Bucks have incredibly high seeds and are not loaded with playoff experience. It’s still very unlikely they get bounced immediately, but the price to bet against them will undoubtedly be alluring.
More realistic spots (again, the seeding is subject to change until the playoffs officially start), could be whoever is matched up with the #3 seed in the Western Conference and the 4 vs. 5 battle in round one in the east.
That’s just for round one, too. As I touched on with a crazy round-two slate, betting on underdogs during the NBA playoffs could quickly become an interesting angle.
Betting on Conference Winners
You can stay in the here and now with a slew of pre-game and live betting wagers during the NBA playoffs, or you can look down the road a bit.
NBA futures are a great way to make money before the season even starts, and you can obviously bet on them during the year, but it’s often more logical to wait until the playoff picture is complete.
Not all NBA betting sites will allow it, but some keep up conference winner wagers even after the playoffs tip off. It can be especially interesting if there is a huge upset, an injury, or the odds change enough to make non-favorites a little more enticing.
There actually aren’t any fresh odds for this wager as I write this, but the Warriors are the understandable favorites in the west. Toronto remains my personal favorite in the east, but there is a clear log-jam with the 76ers, Celtics, and Bucks all looking like extremely viable bets.
Best NBA Finals Matchup Wagers
Not completely sold on who will win the 2019 NBA Finals, but think you know who will get there? You can put some cash on that, as many of the best basketball betting sites offer NBA Finals matchup odds.
SportsBetting.ag has done it before, but MyBookie.ag is actually the best site when it comes to this specific NBA future. They don’t presently have an active wager, but just before the NBA playoffs start, be sure to double check on your favorite NBA sportsbooks to see if they or anyone else pushed them live.
The point here is you can make money just by correctly betting on which two teams will merely represent their respective conference in the NBA Finals. When I looked at Super Bowl 53 matchup odds, my favorite play was the Patriots vs. Saints.
As fate would have it, I was wrong. However, due to the worst no-call in sports history (arguably), I was awfully close to getting that right.
Provided this wager pops up again, you could make money just by banking on the NBA Finals being a series between the Raptors and Warriors (or whoever). That way, you’re obtaining some killer value with a realistic wager but not assuming any of the risk of actually betting against a stacked team like Golden State.
Predicting the NBA Finals MVP
I know I already broke down NBA props, but a very specific one deals only with the NBA Finals, and that’s who wins the series MVP.
You can also look at betting on the 2019 NBA MVP when it comes to the regular season or even state Trae Young’s case for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Regardless, this is a niche prop bet, as it doesn’t deal with any random game or series. It’s the last series of the year, it’s for all the marbles, and it highlights the best player in the Finals.
The odds favor the Warriors (-200 NBA Finals favorites at SportsBetting.ag) to win the title, so if you’re with that logic, you should probably prepare to bet on a Golden State player to win MVP.
Most will gravitate toward Kevin Durant, seeing as he’s won NBA Finals MVP in each of the last two seasons. However, if the Dubs get to the 2019 NBA Finals, I’m going in one of two directions: betting on Stephen Curry or rolling with Kawhi Leonard.
If Golden State is going to win, something tells me Curry is going to be huge and is finally going to earn a trophy on the title stage. He hasn’t done so yet, and for as good as he is, it’s a bit criminal.
Of course, I hold Toronto in high regard, and if they can beat the Dubs, I have to think Leonard ends up being the main reason why. Pricing for either of these guys (and anyone else) won’t be out until the actual 2019 NBA Finals matchup is official, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.
Who Will Win the 2019 NBA Finals?
Lastly, you can obviously bet on who wins the NBA Finals this year. Golden State was the favorite again the second they repeated as champions last year, and the top NBA betting sites wisely never budged from that.
The Warriors have had their issues this year, and winning three straight titles isn’t easy, though, so they’ve actually remained a palatable -200 price at most sites.
I think most of your cash will likely be pushed that way, but there are several viable options to consider.
Keep in mind that the 2019 NBA Finals odds are going to remain fluid until the series finally arrives, but for now, let’s take a look at the odds for everyone who is still mathematically alive for a playoff run this year.
Golden State Warriors-200
Oklahoma City Thunder+5000
Portland Trail Blazers+10000
San Antonio Spurs+10000
Los Angeles Clippers+15000
Listing all these other teams is supposedly necessary, but it’s just a courtesy. The seven teams at the top, in my opinion, are the only NBA Finals wagers worth making.
The reality is only a handful of teams really have a shot at unseating the Dubs, and as I said earlier, a crowded second round is going to weed the pretenders out from the contenders in a hurry.
Houston is probably Golden State’s only real obstacle in the west. They had the Dubs on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals last year, but they regressed this year. I think they missed their window, so even at +1000, I’m really not that into the Rockets.
The only other team to fear here is the Nuggets.
Nikola Jokic is a maestro in every regard down low, Jamal Murray is a fantastic scorer, and Denver has the defensive aptitude to give the Dubs trouble.
Denver’s price is pretty amazing, too, especially considering they’ve been neck and neck with Golden State all year. Still, I think the Warriors have too much talent, and their experience will be key. The Nuggets are a fun (and not obscenely silly) flier bet, but not one I’d take all that seriously.
Utah, OKC, and everyone else in the west is here for the ride, but it won’t last long.
Out east, you have three legit title threats and maybe a fourth (Boston) that could rise up if they kick things into high gear.
Milwaukee has been the best team by record, and they can shoot and defend as well as anyone. Unfortunately, they have no real playoff experience and are currently severely banged up. They’re the top seed in the east and should make it to the conference finals, but I don’t know if they can take down the Raptors.
Toronto is the most complete team in that conference. Boston regressed, and while Philly brought in more star power, they sacrificed depth and reliable perimeter shooting.
The Raptors are extremely efficient, can kill you from the outside, and have the bodies to defend you in every capacity. They’re the exact answer the league needed for the Dubs, and somehow, they’re not even priced like it.
I’ve been going back and forth between Toronto and Golden State all year. If you want value, the Raptors are the pick. If you want a narrative, it’s KD getting three rings and jetting vs. Kawhi getting his and heading to La La Land.
That one is a wash, so I go back to the value and the fact that the Raptors have been so close to making this dream happen. This gives bettors something to root for, and the payoff (+1200) could be amazing depending on what you risk.
As you can see, there is a lot to work with once the NBA playoffs officially start. There are wagers to consider before the field is even set, and there will be games, props, and futures worth betting on.
I tend to look for value where it makes sense, but it should be known that the NBA isn’t always known for returns. The top favorites usually get the job done, and the playoffs — while exciting — play out in a rather predictable manner.
There are caveats to that line of thinking, of course. The Cavaliers erasing a 3-1 series hole in the NBA Finals three years ago is easily the biggest, while the playoff picture this year in particular is a bit uneasy from the jump.
I won’t pretend to know for sure how it all plays out. The smart money continues to be on Golden State, but I love the Raptors, and I want to mix a tiny bit of value in with some reasonably safe wagers.
But there’s more than safety in NBA betting, and that’s definitely the case with the NBA playoffs. Hopefully, one of these wagers finds you well. Either way, happy betting, and enjoy the 2019 NBA postseason!