NBA Finals Sports Betting Tutorial

The NBA Finals are fast approaching, featuring the Western and Eastern Conference finalists, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, going head to head.

Never before have the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat faced off against each other in the battle to raise the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy. This will be a fascinating series with plenty of betting to be had.

If you are new to sports betting and want to get started with placing a bet or two for the finals we’ve created a simple tutorial for you.

Moneyline – Miami Heat vs LA Lakers

For those who are starting out from the very beginning, let’s quickly explain moneyline bets.

A moneyline bet is simply picking the winner of each game between the Lakers and the Heat.

For the first game, as an example, if you think the Lakers will win, choose them. Conversely, if you think the Heat will win, then pick them.

Now before you go straight way, and place a bet on the Lakers to win (and emphatically) take into consideration the moneyline odds. The odds indicate how much you will get back, if you win.

To interpret moneyline odds, it depends on how the sportsbooks displays their odds. For Americans, the traditional form of displaying moneyline odds is the American format (duh).

The American format uses a negative at the front of the odds to designate the favorite and a positive for the underdog.

More commonly found are fractional odds, which are easier to understand and to compare.

And lastly, and more universal, are decimal odds, which is the simplest to compare as they all have the common denominator (i.e. it’s in a percentage).

Currently you will find odds displayed similar to the below:

TeamMoneyline AmericanMoneyline FractionMoneyline Decimal
Miami Heat (MIA)+16533/202.67
Los Angeles Lakers (LA)-1951/21.52

The above example references the sportsbooks: MyBookie, BetMGM and Bet365 respectively (odds may have changed since the time of writing).

So you can see, that if you pick the Lakers, your return is approximately $0.50 for every dollar wagered. Not these odds may not be palatable to you. Take into consideration the betting odds before place any bet.

Moneyline Summary

Spread – Miami Heat vs LA Lakers

The second easiest bet to place is a points spread (or simply spread) bet.

How this works is that the favorite LA Lakers is given a handicap, and the underdog Miami Heat is given an advantage. In doing so, the odds are supposedly meant to reflect an even money bet.


TeamSpread AmericanSpread FractionSpread Decimal
Miami Heat (MIA)+4.5
Los Angeles Lakers (LA)-4.5

In the above example, a 4.5 point head start is given to the Miami Heat. If you believe that the Heat will beat the Lakers with a 4.5 head start then bet on the Heat. In doing so, with the current odds, you will earn $0.91 for every dollar wagered.

If however, you believe that the Lakers will win with a 4.5 point handicap, then for every dollar wagered you will earn $0.91.

With a points spread bet, the odds initially appear to show even money splits. I.e. the same earnings is available for both the Miami Heat and the LA Lakers. But these will move as wagers are placed on either team. As sportsbooks become more exposed to one team, they will adjust the odds in an attempt to de-risk their exposure.

Spread Summary

Over or Unders – Heat and Lakers Total Points Scored

An Over or Unders bet does not pit one team against another. I.e. it is not about the Heat beating the Lakers or vice versa. It is the total score of both teams exceeding or falling under a threshold of total points scored.


TeamOver/Under (American)Over/Under (Fraction)Over/Under (Decimal)
Miami HeatO 217.5
O 217.5
O 217.5
LA LakersU 217.5
U 217.5
U 217.5

The Over or Under threshold is currently 217.5 The 0.5 score line is to ensure that a wager results in a definitive outcome and not with a push / draw.

If you think that the total combined score of the Heat AND the Lakers will exceed 217.5 then pick Overs.

If you think that the total combined score of the Heat AND the Lakers will be under 217.5 then pick Under.

The current return of each bet is $0.90 for each dollar wagered. As time passes and more bets are taken by the sportsbooks the odds may change or the threshold may change.

Over Unders Summary

Futures – NBA Championship Winner

If you don’t want to place a bet on each game, but just want to bet on the eventual winner, choose the Future bet for NBA 2019/2020 season.

The future bet is choosing on either the Lakers or Heat to win it all!

It doesn’t matter how many games it takes, and it doesn’t matter how many points each team scores.

Who ever lifts the trophy at the end of the season is who you are betting on.

Futures – Finals MVP

Another futures bet is picking who will be the Finals MVP.

So out of all the players participating in the NBA Finals pick who you think will become the Finals MVP.

If you choose correctly, you will be paid out by the sportsbook.

Current odds are as follows:

Finals MVPOdds
Lebron James1.70
Anthony David3.80
Jimmy Butler6.50
Bam Adebayo19.00
Goran Dragic26.00
Tyler Herro31.00
Kyle Kuzma251.00
Rajon Rondo501.00


There can be thousands of variations of the bets that we have described, and you can even combine them together to what is called a parlay. So if you win all of the bets that are combined, your winnings are multiplied accordingly.

If you are getting started and not wanting to get too complicated, start with moneyline, point spread or over and under bets. These are the simplest to understand and (in my opinion) the most enjoyable.

Good luck and enjoy the betting action for the NBA Finals!