Back to  Basketball  news
Factors you need to know to succeed in NBA underdog betting
Feb 28, 2022, 4:16:00 AM

Factors you need to know to succeed in NBA underdog betting

The NBA is one of the best teams in the league to watch thanks to its intense brand of basketball. However, not all teams can play at a high level at the same time. Some finish their records with a low mark for the season, classifying them as the underdog teams in the NBA.

Betting on the underdog teams is easy in the NBA since you can quickly determine which one they are when you look at the odds. Moreover, NBA underdog betting proves to give higher rewards if you win the bet, unlike betting on team favourites since your winnings will be lower.

In a given season, a lot of these NBA underdog teams finish below the playoff race, which means they will miss the postseason and hope that they can get the best out of their tanking. 

See the odds on basketball outrights

How often do NBA underdogs win?

Blowing leads is proof of how often underdogs win in the NBA. Not all underdogs are considered to be lowly teams in the league since there are times that a game may pit two teams that either share the same record or have a close ranking in the league table.

There is a 50-50 chance of winning for underdogs in the NBA. The NBA underdog betting system mostly puts the team with a lower record as the underdog, which means that the record is the main way to see which team is the underdog and the favourite.

For starters, the NBA Playoffs puts up the best 16 teams in the league for a tournament, and there are still underdogs all the way to the final. That means that each series will always have an underdog and a favourite. Not every top seeded team makes it to the deeper stages of the playoffs, which shows how frequent underdogs can get a win especially in a seven-game series.

Even in the NBA Finals, there will always be an underdog, and there are even times when they can pull off an upset in the playoffs and so on. These teams can share the same record in the season, so a head to head record would come into play to determine the underdog.

With a lot of comeback wins in the NBA, it is safe to say that it is always a shock when the underdog wins. It is no longer a question of how often do NBA underdogs win, but more of how much was the deficit that they had to crawl back from.

One big example of a comeback win was the 2016 NBA Finals. It is the only time that a team has come back from a 3-1 deficit, which says a lot about the history being rewritten in the league. Comebacks are part of the NBA’s culture, and underdogs have done a great job to shock the league more than once.

The Cleveland Cavaliers made history in the NBA Finals as the first team to crawl back from that big deficit. No other team in the history of the league has managed to do so. On top of that, the Golden State Warriors were the clear favourites of the season as they racked up a record of 73-9 - which is the league’s best record in history as well.

See the latest news on NBA and basketball games

Factors that make the best NBA underdog teams

While underdogs are on the losing side and may even be eliminated from playoff contention, there is a huge chance that these teams can still pull off a win. Here are the top factors that the best NBA underdog team:

    •   Team record is considered to be the first case basis for underdogs in the NBA. The lower the record of a team, the more they are considered as an underdog. This does not mean that teams above the 10th place (case for the play-in tournament) cannot be underdogs as well.

For example, if the Phoenix Suns sit at the top of the Western Conference, then all of the teams below their record are placed as underdogs since they have a lower record than the Suns. In the playoffs, teams with higher records than the opponent have a home-court advantage, meaning they will play more games at home than on the road in a seven-game series. 

However, there are a lot of underdogs that can overcome these kinds of odds. A lot of upsets have happened over the years, including the playoffs. There are some higher-seeded teams that have seen an early exit at the hands of an underdog team (seeded fifth to eighth).

The best underdog NBA team can come up with a strong win even if they face the best teams in the league. A lot of underdogs have pulled off a huge finish in the NBA Finals, so that says a lot about the team record as a whole.

    •   A team’s roster can also affect the way they play in a given game. Roster changes can happen throughout the season all the way to the trade deadline in February. 

Chemistry is a huge factor in any team sport. If a team has seen a lot of roster changes in the past few months, then there is a chance they do not have strong chemistry and it can affect their overall performance. Moreover, any team that has a banged up roster filled with injuries will have a less efficient game.

The continuous trade and sign system of the NBA will always play a huge role on how teams assemble their players. On that note, how the whole team plays depends on the chemistry between the old and new players in the squad.

    •   Star players make a huge impact in the game at any given day. They are the face of their own teams and are expected to play at a high level at all times.

As far as star players go, scoring is no longer the primary function since some of them are just good at setting the plays or making a lot of defensive impact on the floor. 

Star players have to play it smart and put up a lot of stats on the board depending on what they are good at. If they are injured, then the team would have to find a way to fill the void they left, given that they are a crucial part of the squad.

If star players are not included in the playoffs, the team automatically becomes an underdog. A lot of teams have seen injured stars when they need them the most. Perhaps the best example for this one was the 2015 NBA Finals where LeBron James had to face the entire Golden State squad without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love—his two co-stars in Cleveland.

Place your wagers on basketball leagues

    •   Win streaks matter en route to a game. A team that has won its last set of games will go into their next one as a heavy favourite to win the match. However, underdogs can be inspired to beat a team with a winning streak, allowing the underdog to get a better pace in the matches.

For starters, the Los Angeles Lakers have won 33 games in a row in the 1971-72 season. That started out in their 110-106 win against the Baltimore Bullets, and the Milwaukee Bucks came into their January 1972 game as the underdogs, but they managed to claw their way to a 120-104 win.

The Bucks also beat the second-best streak in the NBA, which was 28 games in a row by the Warriors. The Warriors won the first game in that streak against the Portland Trail Blazers at 116-105, and the Bucks closed out the win in December 2015 at 108-95.

Those two games saw the Bucks both as underdogs, and yet they pulled off a huge win in the end. This says a lot about the way underdogs should play their games and why punters like you should not always count them out as a betting option.

    •   The coaching staff matters a lot when it comes to their games as well. Having the coach at the ready is all about having one man to guide the rest of the team. Assistant coaches step up when the head coach is absent in the game due to personal reasons. 

There are coaches that have specialisations of their own. Coaches such as Steve Kerr thrive in running a strong offensive game, while defensive minds such as Mike Brown put defence first over offence. 

Underdog teams can focus on the defensive end since they do not take offence first. This only means that this is still a strong factor before wagering on an underdog team.

    •   A team’s success over the years is the last factor to check for an underdog team. Teams that have won titles or have finished high in the league table are more likely to be considered as a favourite. This is not much of a big deal in betting on underdog teams but their strings of success can be considered as a strong factor on how they can win in a given game.

Despite the fact that there are a lot of changes every season, a team’s momentum in the past five years has a huge impact on how the team will perform in a coming season. 

Bet on live basketball games

Benefits of betting on underdog teams

The NBA is one of the leagues that have a lot of comeback wins over the years, and the frequency is quite unpredictable, making it hard for a lot of punters to bet on the favourites all the time. 

However, the rewards are so big for betting on underdog teams in the NBA. With a lot of comebacks seen over the years, it might be a good idea to put up more wagers on those teams as well.

Some underdog teams can be rebuilding teams as well. This means that they may have to show a lot of potential since they are primarily made up of young players who are yet to shine in the league. These ones are unpredictable and can win a stretch of games without any notice.

This is why it is important to always take a peek at how well they have played in the last five games. The NBA has 82 games per season, so a pace can always be seen weekly depending on how well they grind in their games.

Watching live games is an important aspect as well, specifically in-play betting. A whole game is played in four quarters with 12 minutes each, and a lot can happen in that span of time. Leads can be blown and comebacks can take place. Injuries and scoring runs can also change the way the game is going to end. 

Being attentive in a game gives punters a heads up on how well the underdog team is doing. If the team cannot keep up with the opposing side, then it may be a loss in the end. Tight games are hard to predict since it is all about grit and grind. Lopsided games, however, still have a chance for a big turnaround and may even come down to the wire if the underdog claws back from a huge deficit.

Underdog betting is fun, and punters just need a lot of time and research to make the most of it. After all, games are all around, and there is no shortage of options for them as well. This makes underdog betting a great pick for punters in the long run.

For more NBA and sports updates, visit

Words: Paul Daniel Flores

Image: Alamy


The information provided by the blog above on is for general information purposes only. All information on the Site is provided in good faith, however we make no representation, warranty, or guarantee of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, or completeness of any information or betting tips on the Site.