NBA playoffs first basket best bets for Sunday: Tatum time

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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

Round one of the NBA playoffs was thoroughly unspectacular, with none of the 8 series requiring a Game 7. Suns-Pelicans and Grizzlies-Timberwolves were fun for a while, but both ended in 6 games. Alas, it’s on to the second round now, and the stage is set for what should be more entertaining, high-quality basketball.

It’s time to take a look at the best first-basket bets for Sunday’s schedule. So far in this postseason my first-basket plays have been extremely profitable. I nailed two on the same day during the play-in tournament – Kyrie Irving at +600 and Anthony Edwards at +700 for a two-leg parlay that paid out at +5500. After that I 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 last weekend. Let’s keep the momentum going!

Bucks vs Celtics – Jayson Tatum +700

The Celtics can be expected to have the first possession in their home date with the Bucks. Boston will be putting either Robert Williams or Al Horford in the circle and both are good options. Each one was between a 64 and 65% success rate in the jump-ball department during the regular season. Milwaukee center Brook Lopez, on the other hand, was a modest 8-for-15.

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 Celtics have the ball first, Tatum may be the one to take advantage. He averaged 26.9 points per game during the regular season before pouring in 29.5 ppg in his team’s 4-game sweep of Brooklyn. Tatum went for 39 points in Game 3 and then scored 29 in just 36 minutes of work during the clincher. I expect him to come out and look to make a statement right away against Milwaukee. When you can get one of the two best players on the floor as a +700 fourth favorite, it’s a chance you have to take.

Check out our Bucks vs Celtics preview

Warriors vs Grizzlies – Desmond Bane +700

This Warriors-Grizzlies showdown is another case of the tipoff being a key component. Even though tipoff lock Steven Adams has been benched, Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. is more than capable in the jump-ball department. Jackson won almost 60% of his jumps in 2021-22 (26 won, 18 lost) and so far in the playoffs he is 4-for-6. Golden State will likely counter with Draymond Green. Although Green won all three of his jump balls in round one against Denver, that sample size of success is small. He was just 2-for-9 in the regular season.

If the Grizzlies corral the ball off the tip, don’t be surprised if Bane becomes the beneficiary. After averaging 18.2 ppg during the regular season, the TCU product torched Minnesota for 23.5 ppg. His last 4 point totals in that series were 26, 34, 25 and 23. Bane made the first basket in Game 5 and attempted his team’s first shot in Game 6. You have to like his chances of getting in a groove early and often in the conference semis.

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If you want to go really big, a Tatum-Bane parlay pays out at +6300!

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