NBA playoffs first basket best bets on Monday: The stars come out for Game 1s

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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. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email
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Round two of the NBA playoffs is off to an interesting start, as both road teams prevailed on Sunday, albeit in much different fashion. Milwaukee had no trouble handling Boston, while Golden State survived a 117-116 thriller at Memphis.

Now it’s time to take a look at the next two series openers and dissect the best first-basket bets for Monday’s schedule. So far in this postseason my first-basket plays have been extremely profitable. I nailed 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. Since then I have cashed two consecutive Donovan Mitchell plays, both at +500 (Game 2 and Game 3 of the Utah-Dallas series), before hitting another bullseye with Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges at +1000. Let’s keep the momentum going!

76ers at Heat – Jimmy Butler +700

The Heat can be expected to have the first possession in their home date with the 76ers on Monday. Bam Adebayo will be lining up for the Eastern Conference’s #1 seed and he won 67.2% of his jump balls during the regular season (45 won, 22 lost). So far in the playoffs he is 4-for-6. For the Sixers, Joel Embiid is unable to play in Game 1, so they will likely have to go with 6’9’’ small forward Paul Reed.

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. Assuming the Heat have the ball first, Butler may be the one to take advantage. The veteran all-star will want to make a statement right away after missing his team’s first-round clincher against Atlanta. He will also have to shoulder more of the scoring load with Kyle Lowry sidelined. At +700, Butler has great value.

Check out our 76ers vs Heat preview

Mavericks vs Suns – Devin Booker +460

This Mavericks-Suns showdown is another case of the tipoff being a key component. Phoenix big man Deandre Ayton won 66.7% of his tips in the regular season (44 of 66) and he has been the absolute best at this discipline during the playoffs (6-for-7). The 6’11’’ center out of Arizona will be going up against Dwight Powell of the Mavericks, who is one of the NBA’s worst in the jump-ball department. Powell won 15 and lost 37 in the regular season (28.9%).

If the Suns corral the ball off the tip, don’t be surprised if Booker becomes the beneficiary. Like Butler, Booker missed some of his team’s first-round series (Game 4 and Game 5 against New Orleans). The former Kentucky standout did not do much in Game 6, but some much-needed rest should serve him extremely well going into the conference semis and you have to think he is now 100%. Look for him to come out swinging, or shooting to be more specific.

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If you want to go really big, a Butler-Booker parlay pays out at +4380!

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