NBA Playoffs Tuesday first basket best bets: Morant makes it happen

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) lays the ball up past Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during game one of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at FedExForum.
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The second round of the NBA playoffs continues on Tuesday, and it’s a solid slate with two great matchups. What better way to celebrate the marquee games, and postseason basketball in general, than with a couple of first-basket bets? Let’s dive in, using odds from FanDuel Sportsbook.

Bucks vs Celtics: Al Horford (+1100)

Looking at the first game of the day, getting Horford at better than 10/1 is too good to pass up. Bucks center Brook Lopez is very good at jump balls, but so too is Celtics big man Robert Williams. Horford might not be an offensive juggernaut, but he’s been more productive than most realize.

He’s scored at least 12 points in four of Boston’s five playoff games, and he’s shooting it really well. Horford is 13/24 from beyond the arc (52.4 percent) this postseason, so the team will want to keep feeding him. Most importantly for a first basket bet, he’s seeing good volume early in games.

In Game 1 of this series, Horford made the first basket, sinking a three-pointer less than a minute into the game. He ended up taking five shots in the first five and a half minutes of the matchup. That was easily the most on the team, ahead of Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics

Warriors vs Grizzlies: Ja Morant (+750)

Turning our attention to the nightcap, Morant jumps out to me as having value. For starters, one of the most important factors when handicapping first basket bets is who is going to start with the ball. And Memphis seems like a clear favorite to get the first possession. Draymond Green jumped for Golden State in Game 1, and it’s not his area of expertise.

Green has won only two of the nine jump balls he’s gone up for this season. On the flip side, Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. is at over 59 percent on the year. Five players in this game have lower odds than Morant, and he’s tied with Andrew Wiggins for sixth place. That seems misguided.

Volume is king with first basket bets, and Morant’s volume was off the charts in the opener of this series. The third-year pro took a whopping 31 shots from the field in Game 1. He made the first basket of the night with a three-pointer on the opening possession, and he ended up taking 11 shots from beyond the arc that night.

For a guy who often doesn’t shoot a ton of threes, that just goes to show how aggressive he was being offensively. Morant took four shots just within the first 2:45 of the game. There’s no reason to believe he’ll slow down here.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Golden State Warriors vs Memphis Grizzlies

A two-leg first-basket parlay on these plays is +10100 odds!

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