NBA first basket predictions & best bets for Warriors vs Celtics Game 3 on Wednesday, June 8: You can call him Al

Al Horford of the Boston Celtics
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Ricky Dimon

NBA · 3 weeks ago

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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.

If it feels like the NBA Finals started ages ago and only two games have been played, well… that’s because it’s true. There were two full days off in between Game 1 and Game 2 (even though no travel was involved!) and there are also two full days off in between Game 2 and Game 3. Factor in that all games tip-off at night and that’s almost 70 hours without basketball. Fortunately, Wednesday’s contest between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics should be worth the wait. It’s all tied up at 1-1 after the pair of games in Golden State was split, with the Celtics pulling away in the 4th quarter of the opener before the Warriors rebounded by dominating the 3rd quarter this past Sunday.

What will Game 3 have in store? Only time will tell, but for now, we aren’t worried about the big picture. In this piece, we are focused only on the very start of Wednesday’s action, namely the first-basket scorer. Which player will get the scoreboard in motion? Let’s take a look at the best bet to be made.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Golden State Warriors vs Boston Celtics

Warriors vs Celtics first basket best bet: Al Horford (+1000)

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. Boston big man Robert Williams III is a perfect 2-for-2 on opening tips in this series, having gotten the better of Golden State center Kevon Looney on each occasion in Golden State.

Assuming it’s the same matchup in Game 3, Williams should win it yet again. After all, the sample size extends beyond just the first two contests in this best-of-7 set. In the regular season, Williams won 65.7 percent of his jumps (46 of 70); Looney finished at an anemic 36.5 percent (35 of 96). In the playoffs, Looney has been even worse (4 for 14, 28.6 percent).

Read our same game parlay for Warriors vs Celtics (+873 odds!)

RW3 is a little banged up because of a knee issue, but even if he doesn’t start the C’s should be able to win the tip with Al Horford. The former Florida Gator was 17-for-26 on jump balls during the regular season (65.4 percent).

To be clear, Horford is starting no matter what. He simply won’t handle jump-ball duties if Williams is good to go. If Boston does control the ball first, don’t be surprised if Horford becomes the beneficiary. He went wild for 26 points in the opener before being held to a mere 2 points on Sunday, so the veteran center will be eager to get back on track.

The Celtics know they need contributions from all kinds of guys – not just Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – if they want to lift the trophy. In the regular season, Horford averaged more points at home than on the road and shot better both overall and from three (36.4 percent to 30.4 percent) in the Garden than in away games. There isn’t great value on the favorites in this market, so let’s roll with Horford in hopes of him getting off to a fast start in front of the home crowd.

Don’t miss our Game 3 roundtable, featuring best bets from 5 experts including Scal and JutPicks!

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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