Most bets made on the National Basketball Association are point-spread – or handicap – wagers.
A team that is expected to win a particular matchup will have to beat the opponent by the expected margin. The margin is set by oddsmakers who then adjust the handicap throughout the period before the contest begins. A bet in locked into the point-spread assigned at the time of the wager.
If your wager is on the betting favorite, then the team you bet on will have to win by the handicap margin.
Therefore, if you bet on the Golden State Warriors at -9, then the Warriors will have to win the game by 10 or more for you to win the wager (a 9-point finish would be a tie and your risked money is refunded). To determine if your team has beat the margin, add the handicap points to the opposing team’s final score.
Accordingly, should you bet on the Milwaukee Bucks at +9, then the Bucks would have to stay within eight points of the opposing team in order for your bet to be a winner (a 9-point finish again would be a tie with risked money refunded). To determine if your team has beat the margin, add the handicap points to your teams' final score.