NBA first basket predictions & best bets for Heat vs Celtics Game 3 on Saturday, May 21: Make the Smart play

Fans cheer after Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) made a three point basket as Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash (left) calls timeout during the fourth quarter of game two of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden
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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Although neither game in Miami was competitive, the fact that the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Celtics is tied at 1-1 sets up the remainder of the series for plenty of entertainment. Now the best-of-7 set shifts to Boston, where the Celtics dominated the Bucks in Game 7 of that second-round struggle.

Right now it’s time to focus on the smaller picture: the first-basket scorer. So far during this postseason my first-basket plays have been quite profitable. I hit 2 plays on the same day during the play-in tournament – Kyrie Irving at +600 and Anthony Edwards at +700 for a 2-leg parlay that paid out at +5500. After that I nailed two consecutive Donovan Mitchell plays, both at +500 (Game 2 and Game 3 of the Utah-Dallas series), before being successful with Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges at +1000. I was also on target with Joel Embiid at +440 and last Friday I hit a Desmond Bane bullseye at +550.

Let’s keep the momentum going!

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics

Heat vs Celtics: Marcus Smart +1200

Needless to say, the tipoff is the most important factor that should be looked at when deciding on first-basket bets. Obviously, players on whichever team gains possession are going to have by far the best opportunities. Unfortunately, in this particular matchup it is almost impossible to predict the jump-ball outcome. Both Boston big man Robert Williams III and Miami center Bam Adebayo are way better than average in the jump-ball department. They were among the league’s best during the regular season and each guy is over 50 percent in the playoffs. In head-to-head jumps against each other during the 2021-22 campaign (regular season and playoffs included), RW3 and Adebayo are 2-2 (1-1 in this series).

In general, I will give a slight nod to the Celtics’ guys. They have a ton of momentum after destroying Miami in Game 2 and they are playing at home. I think Boston has a better chance of getting a defensive stop and starting strong even if Williams loses the tip. Specifically, I like Smart to produce the first points.

Smart is back from injury and has a game under his belt, having played on Thursday. The Oklahoma State product wasted no time getting right back in gear, forking up 22 shots that led to 24 points while also recording three steals and a block. Smart has attempted double-digit shots in eight of 11 playoff games so far and he has exceeded the 20-point mark twice in his last three outings. He also scored 20 on a pair of occasions against Brooklyn in round one. It is also worth noting that Smart launched his team’s first attempt from the floor in Game 2. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown commanding the most significant defensive attention and neither Williams nor Al Horford attempting many field goals, Smart has great value at +1200.

Don’t miss our same game parlay for Heat vs Celtics Game 3 (+825 odds!)

Pickswise is the home of free NBA picks and predictions. Make sure to also check out our NBA parlays and NBA prop bets tabs for more expert picks.

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