NBA Playoffs Thursday first basket best bets and parlay: Embiid gets it done

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) drives against Toronto Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa (5) during the third quarter in game two of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
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Filip Tomic


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Long-time NBA fan, following the game closely for 21 years now. Joined the Pickswise writing staff for the 2020-21 season and have given out winning picks since. Hopefully we can make some money together! Oh, and I firmly believe Lebron James is not one of the two best basketball players of all time. Yeah, I said it. For Filip Tomic media enquiries, please email
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It promises to be another intense night of NBA Playoffs basketball, with 3 teams are facing elimination tonight.

Two of the series are in the Western Conference, with the other game in the East. To spice things up I’ve prepared a couple of first basket plays for Thursday’s action, so let’s get into it.

Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell (+500)

Rudy Gobert is jumping against Dwight Powell in this series. He has the height advantage over him, but for some reason he’s 2-3 in the series. It’s surely only a matter of time that the situation evens itself out, so I think Gobert should get tonight’s tip with the backing of the home fans. He won the tip in the previous game, but Mike Conley missed the first attempt for Utah. Gobert has won 62% of tips this season and his team has scored first in 55% of those situations. If we look at the stats on offense for Utah, the point guard and shooting guard positions have made the most first baskets this season at 20 each in 87 games played.

After a poor showing in Game 5, with just 9 points scored on 26% shooting from the field, Donovan Mitchell needs to assert himself early in this one and setting the tone with a big 1st quarter is the best way to do that. Facing elimination and playing at home will also be an advantage for the Jazz, but it all starts with Gobert, so let’s hope he can get them the ball first and then Mitchell takes us home.

Check out our full game preview for Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz

76ers vs Raptors: Joel Embiid (+300)

Joel Embiid’s Sixers have an opportunity for the third game in a row to close out their series against the Raptors, but it won’t be easy for them on the road tonight. The MVP candidate hasn’t played well over the past 2 games, most of that is down to his thumb injury, but he has a good chance to change that tonight. The center position has scored the opening basket 27 times in the 87 games the Sixers have played this season, the most out of any position.

Embiid has won 65% of his tips for the year and most of the time he is jumping against smaller players in this series, so that’s a good first step towards landing our bet. The Raptors have tried multiple options at start of games. Their 3 tallest players — Yuta Watanabe, Chris Boucher and Khem Birch — are all 6’9″, and Embiid just dwarfs them with his size. In Game 5 Embiid won the tip and James Harden made a 2-point jumper.

Harden hasn’t been reliable lately though, so I think the big man will take matters into his own hands from the get-go. The last thing the Sixers need is to lose another game and have to go back home facing elimination after being up 3-0. Both Embiid and Harden’s legacy would take a significant hit if they blow this series, so let’s hope Embiid can get Philly off the mark.

Read our Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors full game preview

If you fancy a massive payout, a Mitchell-Embiid parlay pays out at +2300!

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