NBA playoffs first basket best bets on Thursday: More magic from Mitchell

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Salt Lake City.
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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

First-round series in the NBA playoffs are changing locations and moving to the arenas of the lower-seeded teams. A trio of Game 3s will take place on Thursday night. It’s Memphis at Minnesota, Dallas at Minnesota and Golden State at Denver. Only the Warriors have an opportunity to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their respective best-of-7 set.

It’s time to take a look at the 2 best first-basket bets for Thursday’s schedule. 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 – and a +500 winner with Donovan Mitchell earlier this week. Let’s shoot for more success with these plays!

Grizzlies vs Timberwolves – Desmond Bane +600

The Grizzlies can be expected to have the first possession in their home date with the Timberwolves on Tuesday. Heck, the Grizzlies are always expected to have the ball first. Steven Adams is the best in the business when it comes to jump balls. He led the NBA in total jumps won by a margin of at least 11 over everyone else in the regular season and he led in percentage (77.2) by basically a million. He actually lost the tip against Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns in Game 2, but he won it in the series opener and should restore order to the proceedings on Thursday. Towns won only 45 of his 93 jumps (48.4 percent) during the regular season.

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 Grizzlies have the ball first, Bane may be the one to take advantage. The former TCU standout attempted 15 shots in Game 1 and he scored his team’s first basket in Game 2. Having averaged 18.2 ppg during the regular season, Bane is obviously one of the focal points of Memphis’ offense along with Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks. Don’t be surprised if Bane gets in on the action right away.

Check out our Timberwolves vs Grizzlies preview

Mavericks vs Jazz – Donovan Mitchell +500

This Mavericks-Jazz game is another case of the tipoff being a key component. Rudy Gobert will be lining up for Utah and he won 58.2 percent of his jumps this season (46 of 79). Dallas big man Dwight Powell is without question one of the worst in the entire association when it comes to this particular statistic. He registers at an anemic 28.3 percent (15 of 53). Like Adams, Gobert won it Game 1 before losing it in Game 2. There is no reason to think Utah’s center will get beat out twice in a row by Powell.

If the Jazz corral the ball off the tip, don’t be surprised if Mitchell becomes the beneficiary. Mitchell (25.9 ppg) poured in 32 points during his team’s series-opening victory and he forked up 29 attempts from the field. He attempted 30 in Game 2, turning it into 34 points. There is no reason why he will suddenly cut down on his shots considering the fact that he played well in both contests and the Jazz did well to split on the road. As mentioned above, Mitchell was the first-basket scorer for us at +500 in Game 2 and I am going right back to the well for this one.

Check out all of our NBA previews and picks for Thursday

If you want to go really big, a Bane-Mitchell parlay pays out at +4100!

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