NBA Playoffs predictions – First basket best bets for Thursday: The Bucks start with Middleton

Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks

The NBA playoffs continue in both conferences on Thursday night. In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks will be desperate to get on the scoreboard against the Brooklyn Nets, whom they trail 2-0. In the West, this is only Game 2 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz because the Clippers needed a full seven to get past Dallas in the first round. Utah leads this conference semi-final series 1-0 and will try to take a commanding 2-0 advantage in front of its home fans.

Let’s take a look at some intriguing first-basket bets for Thursday’s postseason action on the professional hardwood.

Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks – Khris Middleton +500

Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz – Bojan Bogdanovic +650

Let’s break down the two prop plays one by one.

Bucks at Nets – Middleton +500

Well, at least the Bucks have won something so far in this series … the tip-offs! Although Milwaukee trails 2-0 and was not competitive in either contest at the Barclays Center, Brook Lopez is 2-0 in opening jump balls against Kevin Durant. Dating back to a first-round sweep of Miami, Lopez has controlled five tips in a row (he took the last three of that series at the expense of Heat big man Bam Adebayo).

The Bucks have been offensively challenged against Brooklyn and they would be no locks to score on the opening possession, but at least having the ball first would give everyone on the team decent value to be the first point-scorer. And given Lopez’s recent success in the circle, you have to think Milwaukee will once again get the first crack at points. I don’t love Giannis Antetokounmpo’s value at +360, so the pick here is Middleton at +500. Middleton attempted 23 shots in the opener and 20 in Game 2. It is true that he pretty much hasn’t been able to throw it in the ocean, but you can be sure he’ll keep trying. The Bucks need their sharpshooter to heat up if they are going to have any chance.

Clippers at JazzBogdanovic +650

The jump-ball battle is Rudy Gobert of the Jazz vs. Marcus Morris Sr. of the Clippers. Advantage: Gobert. Unsurprisingly, the 7’1’’ center (who was just named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the third time, it should be noted) easily took the tip from the 6’8’’ Morris on Tuesday.

Utah’s Joe Ingles promptly drained a three-pointer for the first points of the night. This time let’s go with another sweet shooter in Bogdanovic, who has good value at +650. He attempted 14 field goals in Game 1, the second-most among Jazz starters (trailing only Donovan Mitchell). Los Angeles is going to be all over Mitchell, who scored 45 points in the opener, early and often. The door could be open for Bogdanovic.

Parlay odds: +4400

Why not sprinkle a few bucks on a parlay with both of these bets? It pays out +4400 odds at FanDuel. It’s the playoffs, so it’s time to go big or go home.

Pickswise is the home of free NBA picks and predictions. Make sure to also check out our NBA parlays and NBA prop bets tabs for more expert picks. 

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