Some people believe the NBA regular season is too long. Others don’t like the trend of star players taking games off in the middle of the season to “load manage.” But whichever side of the fence you fall on with those two controversial issues, everyone is in complete agreement that the NBA playoffs are an entirely different animal.
When the playoffs hit, the 82-game marathon slog of a season becomes a series of seven-game sprints to the finish. Load management is no more, and the game becomes a war of attrition.
The daily regular-season grind shifts to the daily playoff intensity of possible season-ending elimination. If, as they say, familiarity does breed contempt, then by a seventh and deciding game, the two teams on the court absolutely hate each other.
The NBA playoffs are positively glorious, even if you aren’t a basketball fan. And if you fancy yourself a sports bettor, or even just want to give it a try, NBA playoffs betting is some of the most exciting action that you will ever play.
How to make NBA playoffs bets
If you are new to sports betting, it might feel a little intimidating to start your new hobby by jumping right into playoff betting. Don’t worry. The action on the court is more intense, and the stakes are higher for the players, but the betting is just as easy to figure out as it is at any other time of year. And for any other sport.
It’s just that cheering for your bet during the NBA playoffs is a lot more fun.
Before placing any bets on the NBA playoffs, the first thing you need to figure out is if you are legal to place those bets. The age requirement in Colorado is 21, and the other requirement is that you be located within the state lines when placing those bets.
This is not a requirement for Colorado residency. Anyone who is of age and currently inside the borders of the state can place a legal bet on the NBA playoffs and any other sport that’s offered.
Retail sportsbooks in Colorado
If you want to place bets at a retail sportsbook in Colorado, then obviously you’ll meet the location requirements. At that point, you’ll be deep inside the state and up in the mountains since all retail sportsbooks are located inside casinos operating in the cities of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek.
Black Hawk and Central City are just west of Denver, while Cripple Creek is in the mountains near Colorado Springs.
There are 33 casinos in these three cities, and almost all of them have applied for sports betting licenses. About half have received approval, with that total likely to increase over the next several months.
Online and mobile sportsbooks in Colorado
Each of the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will also have a partner operator that runs online and mobile sports betting. So if going to the mountains isn’t convenient, or you simply prefer to place your bets while sitting on your couch at home, you’ll have plenty of options to do so.
Just go to the website of your preferred sportsbook, or find the corresponding mobile app, and create a new account.
To register with a sportsbook in Colorado, all that you need is a name, date of birth, email address, home address, phone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number. That will be used by officials to confirm your identity and age.
Once you’ve complete that, pick a username and password, make a deposit into your account (either online or over the app), and you’re ready to place bets on the NBA playoffs.
A couple of things to note. If you register for a sportsbook online, you will not have to re-register to use the app. One registration will give you an account on all of that sportsbook’s platforms.
If you have an Android device and want to download an app, you must go to the sportsbook’s website to find the download link. The Google Play store does not carry any apps related to gambling. All of the sportsbooks know this, however, and have created easy-to-follow workarounds.
When placing bets via a website, your IP address will be used to verify your location. Geolocation technology on your phone will be used when you are using a mobile device.
NBA playoff history
The NBA playoffs go back to 1946, three years before the NBA was even an entity. Back then, and before the merger that created the NBA, the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League decided their season champions with a best-of-seven series. So today’s playoff format still looks very similar to what was around more than 70 years ago.
The very first recognized NBA champion was the Philadelphia Warriors, who would win two titles in Philadelphia and another four as the Golden State Warriors.
The Boston Celtics are the most decorated champion in NBA history. They’ve won 17 NBA titles, which includes an incredible streak of eight in a row from 1959 through 1966.
The Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers are just one behind them with 16 championship banners. Five of those came in Minnesota and the other 11 after moving to California in 1960.
The Celtics and Lakers have met a total of 12 times head-to-head in the NBA Finals, with the Celtics winning nine of those meetings.
NBA playoffs betting odds and lines
Everyone plays, every game counts, and every conceivable NBA playoffs bet is available for you to wager when betting in Colorado.
Point spread betting
The point spread bet is the most standard of all bets and the bread and butter of your NBA playoffs wagering. A point spread is used to level the playing field (or court in this case), and you put your money down on either the favorite or the underdog. This is how a point spread looks when posted by the bookmaker.
- Los Angeles Lakers -4.5 (-110)
- Denver Nuggets +4.5 (-110)
LeBron James and the Lakers are the favorites in this one at -4.5. That means for a bet on the Lakers to win, they will have to top the Nuggets by at least five points.
On the other side, a bet on the underdog means that the Nuggets can lose by as many as four points, and your bet is still a winner.
The (-110) moneyline that you see is because the sportsbook takes juice (also known as vig) for its services. So your $100 bet actually only returns $90.91 in winnings.
Also, in understanding how point spreads work, a posted spread is not the sportsbook making a prediction or choosing a rooting interest. The only thing the book wants is equal betting on both sides of the line.
That way, it guarantees a profit from taking juice. If the betting becomes unequal, the book is at risk, so it will shift the line to stimulate betting on a particular side.
Let’s say you don’t want the 4.5 points the Nuggets are getting. You think they are going to win the game outright, and you want to be paid for taking the extra risk.
That’s where the moneyline bet comes in. It’s a straight win/loss bet that uses different payouts to even the wager, instead of using a point spread.
- Los Angeles Lakers (-180)
- Denver Nuggets (+160)
If the Nuggets win the game outright and you put $100 on them, your profit will be $160. On the other side of the bet, the Lakers, as the favorite, only pay -180 on the moneyline. That means that if you want to win $100, it will take a bet of $180 to get that payout.
To better understand how American odds work, keep in mind that +/-100 is considered even odds, like the flip of a coin. The favorite gets a negative number and pays less. The underdog has a positive number and pays out more.
If you don’t want to root for one team over another, and just want to either root for both or against both, an over/under bet is perfect. It’s simple — the oddsmakers post a line for the total combined points in the game, and you place your bet on the over or the under.
- Los Angeles Lakers +191.5 (-110)
- Denver Nuggets -191.5 (-110)
For an over/under bet, also called a totals bet, the winner of the game is meaningless to you. It’s all about the points scored. Or not scored, if that’s the way you bet.
At 192 total points, the over is the winner. At 191 points, it’s the under. And of course, you will be paying the sportsbook its juice.
Futures bets and propositions
The other main kinds of betting that you’ll find on the NBA playoffs are futures bets and propositions. The aptly named futures bets are wagers on events that take place in the future, like placing a bet on the teams that will meet in the NBA Finals before the regular season starts. You can also bet on division winners, season win totals and the eventual NBA champion, among other bets.
For proposition bets, you’re putting wagers down on individual or team events that take place inside a larger event, like an NBA playoffs series. These prop bets can include which player will be the leading scorer, how many games a series will last, in which city the series will end, the exact score of the series and so much more.
Recent NBA champions
NBA playoff records
- Most individual points in a playoff game: Michael Jordan scored 63 against the Celtics in 1986.
- Most field goals made in a single playoff game: Wilt Chamberlain (1960), John Havlicek (1973) and Michael Jordan (1988) all made 24 field goals in a single postseason game.
- Most 3-point field goals made in a single playoff game: Klay Thompson hit 11 3-pointers in 2016.
- Most rebounds in a single game: Wilt Chamberlain recorded 41 rebounds in 1967.
- Most points in a single playoff run: During the Bulls’ championship run in 1992, Michael Jordan scored 759 points in 22 playoff games.
NBA playoffs betting FAQ
Can you place bets on every game of the NBA playoffs?
Yes. In Colorado, all professional sporting events are legal to bet on. This includes any bet on an NBA postseason game and all games involving the Denver Nuggets.
The only exception to this is for players, coaches, trainers, and other team and league officials who can influence the outcome of a game. People meeting those qualifications are not allowed to bet on the sports in which they participate.
How long do the NBA playoffs last?
In 2003 the NBA extended its first-round playoff series to a best-of-seven (previously it was best-of-five), making it possible for a team to play a total of 28 games to win the championship. In 2008 the Celtics required 26 games to win the NBA title, which is the most any one team has played in a single postseason.
Because of this high volume of games, the NBA playoffs can last as long as two months.
Is there live betting for NBA playoff games?
Almost all Colorado sportsbooks offer live betting, and they offer that live betting on all NBA games — both regular and postseason. Live betting is the ability to place wagers on events already in progress. The lines and spreads change as the game changes.
There are quarter lines, halftime lines and buyout options of losing bets throughout the game. The NBA playoffs and live betting are a perfect mix of excitement and wager participation.