The NBA and basketball as a whole is one of the most popular sports betting options in the United States. At most legal Michigan sportsbooks, both in-person and online, the NBA and NCAA college basketball stand alongside NFL and NCAA college football as the most heavily wagered leagues/sports.
The emergence of legalized online sports gambling and its growth throughout the country has had positive impact on the NBA’s continued growth. And the development of in-game/live betting has added another new wrinkle of possibilities for both bettors and sportsbooks. Now that legal online sports betting has arrived in Michigan, you may be wondering how to get in on the game, but we got you covered.
The introduction of legal online sports betting in Michigan in 2021 gave Detroit Pistons fans, and those with other allegiances, a whole new entertainment experience. On this page we’ll get into what’s upcoming in the active 2021 season and then dive into some NBA betting specifics.
Those just dipping their toes into the water could easily be befuddled by the various betting options for the NBA, so we’ll touch on those in addition to breaking down betting pricing, popular markets, some key factors to consider as a bettor, and some bankroll management.
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The 2021 NBA regular season/playoffs
2021 is shaping up to be a pretty regular year for the NBA, despite the craziness of 2020. The 2021 season is underway, with teams playing just ten fewer games than usual. The All-Star game expected to be played in February has been postponed, so you’re going to have to wait for that. However, you’ll still be able to tune in to NBA action for nearly a full season of games, though most of the pre-season goings on (including the opening of free agency) happened on an accelerated schedule.
So far, the Pistons are middling, though there have been some encouraging signs. They’re trailing behind in the Central Division, but there’s hope amongst fans and sports writers alike that rookie Saddiq Bey and first-year Sekou Doumbouya are the fresh faces that might just take the Pistons to new heights. Doumbouya in particular is a player to watch this season, as he’s got the versatility to cover several defensive positions and a wingspan to match, but still needs to mesh with star Blake Griffin. Another player to keep your eyes on is Wayne Ellington, who scored a franchise record four-plus three-pointers in five games earlier this year.
Killian Hayes was the only Pistons draft pick for the 2020-21 season, praised for his abilities as a playmaker and his shooting form. A versatile guard, Hayes was starting to find his footing in the Pistons roster before being sidelined by a labral tear in his hip, an injury that will likely keep him out for the next eight weeks. It’s a tragic interruption to what could have been a stellar season for this top 10 draft pick, but here’s hoping that Hayes is back on his feet and in the game with enough time to prove his worth as a solid bet for 2022.
Basketball history in Michigan
While the NBA was born in 1949, the roots of the lone professional basketball team in Michigan date back further. The Fort Wayne Pistons – the Detroit Pistons since the franchise relocated in 1957 – were established in 1941 as a member of the NBL (National Basketball League), and headed over to the BAA (Basketball Association of America) in 1948 after winning NBL championships in 1944 and ‘45.
The NBL and BAA merged to form the NBA in 1949, and the Pistons have been a part of the league since. They’ve won three NBA titles (1989, 1990, 2004) and reached the Eastern Conference Finals in six consecutive years from 2003-2008. It hasn’t been nearly as pretty since.
While the Pistons have struggled over most of the past decade, the NBA itself has had quite a different fate. The league generates billions of dollars in revenue each year and their audience is only growing – sports betting will only continue to fuel that further. Player salaries are enormous in a star driven league, but even some of the league’s benchwarmers are raking in salaries north of $15-20 million dollars per year.
This has only been the case since the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, but it helps shed light on how successful the league has been in the recent past. The emergence of stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, as well as the dominance of their teams, helped fuel massive spikes in ratings during NBA Finals games. The marketability of the league’s stars allows for a worldwide reach, and the growth of overseas talent in the NBA has spiked significantly.
What’s the “vig” in NBA betting?
You may have heard the term “vig” or “juice” when it comes to sports betting – this is the book’s take. Those terms refer to the fee the sportsbook charges a bettor for making a wager. This is clearly identifiable in most spread or total (over/under) bets – regardless of which side you play, which will usually be priced at -110.
For that particular wager, $110 would have to be wagered in order to profit $100.
To put it another way, the book is taking a 10% fee, which is the industry standard rake/vig. It’s not terribly uncommon to see 15% or even 20% vig on in-game bets or player props, but for most sides/totals on pregame bets, you should expect to see -110, otherwise you may want to look elsewhere.
Player props vig
It’s very common to see spread and total bets priced at -110, but player props are a little different. They tend to come with higher vig, around -115 and up to -120 depending on where you’re shopping.
This can also appear to be much higher on certain bets; for example, you may see an overpriced at -160 with the over bet priced at +120 or +130. These prices can vary significantly from book to book, unlike spread or total numbers where the books tend to be aligned very closely.
Some books will have slightly different totals for player props than a competing book. Remember the mantra: shop around!
Blake Griffin’s rebounding prop might sit at 6.5 at one book, but if you’re eyeing other books you may see a total of 7.5 elsewhere. Plugged-in bettors with access to strong player projections tend to love betting props, as they find more pricing errors in that market than in a more efficient market like NBA spreads or totals. Even new bettors can find accurate projections, some of which may be available for free.
Those into live or in-game betting will also notice higher vig attached to those bets more often than not. Prices tend to sit around -115. For those unfamiliar, live or in-game betting refers to wagering that occurs while the game is in action – or after it has begun. In general, players should look to bet spreads or totals with a 10% vig, while player props/live bets should be aiming for 15% or less.
Popular NBA betting markets and formats
- Point spread: One of the most common and popular forms of NBA betting, betting the spread means that you’re betting the game on a perceived even playing field – a “favorite” would need to win by more than the spread in order to “cover.” For example if the Lakers are favored by 5.5 against the Clippers, the Lakers would need to win by 6 points or more to “cover,” and for you to win your bet. If you took the Clippers and they lost by 5 or fewer, or won, you’d win that bet.
- Moneyline: Instead of factoring in any sort of point spread, moneyline bets simply require the team you wagered on to win in order to cash the ticket.
- Futures: Bets made on an outcome of a future event; popular futures bets in the NBA would be the winner of the NBA Finals and can break down to the player level (over/unders on seasonal stat totals).
- Player props: Bets can be placed on individual player stats – the book will assess a total for each stat, and players can bet the over or under. Those that are into daily fantasy sports will love this sort of betting, and player projections are extremely valuable for success in this space.
- Total (Over/Under): A total is set for the combined points scored between both teams in a given game, and bettors can ride with the over or under.
- Parlays: This refers to the grouping together of multiple bets on a single ticket. You can combine two bets, four bets, 14, you get the idea. They can pay a lot if you hit them, but they’re not quite EV+ plays.
- Teasers: Teasers are a type of wager that combines more than one bet into a single ticket, and allows the bettor to adjust the point spread in their favor for both games.
- Live betting: Betting that occurs while the game is underway. Live betting is most commonly offered during stoppages — commercial breaks or at the end of quarters/halves.
- Opening/closing lines: Spread bets are thought to have the most value right when they are released, before incoming bets start to move the number. The closing line refers to the line at the time of tip-off.
- Steam: “Steam” moves can help identify professional betting action, which can be valuable information. When lines move in unusual ways, a reverse-line movement, it’s usually a result of pro action.
NBA betting considerations
We could go on all day about different things to consider when placing an NBA bet, but let’s start with some of the basics.
Throughout the season teams will be in situations that can create some betting value due to the schedule, a key injury, rest days, etc.
- Back-to-backs: A team playing on back-to-back days can create some interesting situations. Players like Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid will sometimes rest on one end of the back-to-back, and a loss of a player of that magnitude has a non-negligible impact on the betting line. Rotations may also be staggered a little differently for teams depending on their situation.
- Load management: The term became more popular in the last few years, and in an 82-game season where regular season games can sometimes become monotonous, it’s not surprising it happens when stars are earning in excess of $30 million/year. The playoffs can become grueling and staying healthy is vital, so we tend to see it more with veteran players on winning teams, but bottom dwellers also get in on the lack of action, sometimes to try to improve lottery odds.
- Injuries: Especially for DFS players, nothing is more valuable than fast injury or rest news in the NBA. Injuries can have a massive impact on rotations as well as point spreads and totals, so finding and acting on that information fast is especially vital in betting. If you can beat the book and get in on a line before it’s taken off the board due to an announced injury, you’ll have a nice edge on the house.
The crossover between daily fantasy sports and sports betting
Those with a daily fantasy background have a nice leg up when it comes to sports betting. Utilizing accurate player projections and monitoring news can provide a massive advantage as far as getting the best number on a spread bet or finding a bad line on a player prop. Bettors and DFS players are looking at very similar information in order to make their choices.
Sports betting bankroll management
If you want to avoid quickly running through your wagering funds, there is no more important factor to sports betting than bankroll management. Put another way, it’s about being disciplined with the funds you’ve allocated for sports betting entertainment. If you think or know your betting is getting out of hand, please review this page.
Bankroll management is something every bettor needs to be conscious of, because betting wildly with big portions of your bankroll is likely to drain your bankroll sooner rather than later. This isn’t limited to big bettors either – even those shelling out some beer money should employ these strategies.
To start, bettors will want to figure out what their starting bankroll will be. In other words, decide what you can afford to and would be willing to lose, or spend for the entertainment. This obviously depends on each bettor’s financial situation and comfort level, but it should be an amount you won’t lose sleep over. From that point, a “unit” size can be established. Most bettors place one unit on a particular bet, although some may wager more on games they see more value in. Depending on where you’re at, it may be $5, $50 or it may be $500.
It’s generally recommended to bet a certain percentage of your bankroll as your unit size – that number can range from 1-5% and further depending on the bettor.
Unit sizes can also change based on how you’re performing – if you’re consistently winning and have built up a bankroll, you may be comfortable upping your unit size to reflect your current standing. A bettor on a losing streak would probably want to cut back on their unit size to ensure they can continue on through the down swing. And the general rule is: You should not bet more than 5% of your bankroll on any one position.
NBA in Michigan: the Detroit Pistons
“The kids are alright”, and the new crop of fresh faces in the Pistons lineup are performing well enough, but many argue they’re not getting enough minutes. Upstarts like Sekou Doumbouya and Saddiq Bey haven’t really had their chance to shine. With the season steadily progressing we’re hopeful that the kids will get more chances to get out there and get a feel for Pistons basketball with the guidance of veterans like Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin.
Pistons outlook heading into 2022
We’ve mentioned Killian Hayes, the guard from France with the nickname “Killian Haymaker”, whom was benched by a hip injury in the first games of the 2021 season and is likely to miss up to eight weeks of play. Also of note is Isaiah Stewart, who’s still learning the ropes from his counterpart Mason Plumlee to be the defensive brain of the team. He’s young, but is already proving to have the mind of a great playmaker. The Pistons are not expected to make the playoffs this year with their green crop of upstarts, but as these kids ripen into experienced Pistons, we’re likely to see the team gel into a real contender for 2022.