NBA First Basket Prop Preview: Data, Insights & Key Stats For The Second Round Of The Playoffs

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NBA First Basket Prop Preview: Data, Insights & Key Stats For The Second Round Of The Playoffs

The goal of the first basket prop is to predict which player will score the first basket of the game. It’s a popular NBA betting option due to the long odds and quick results. 

The matter of free throws is a key detail to note when learning how to bet on basketball. Some online sportsbooks, such as BetMGM and DraftKings, do not include free throws and instead label the prop as the “first field goal.” In other words, look out for whether the prop is titled first basket or first field goal. 

Meanwhile, exact methods are also a subset of the prop. Online sportsbooks like BetMGM and DraftKings offer lines on whether the first field goal will be for two or three points, while FanDuel offers more specific methods (dunk, layup, other, free throw, 3-pointer). 

BetMGM first field goal trends  

According to one NBA sportsbook, BetMGM last week, the first field goal prop finished as the fourth most common NBA bet. Only the big three — spreads, moneylines, and totals — edged it out. Finally, there were far more bets on which player would score his team’s first field goal than on the player’s exact method. For example, “Jalen Brunson first Knicks field goal” would be more popular than “Brunson first field goal exact two-point.” 

NBA first basket scorer odds

The table below contains current NBA playoff odds. Search any name in the bar, and that player’s odds will populate. 

First-quarter stats to know 

The following chart shows first-quarter stats from the regular season, with a ranking of the percentage of opponent attempts each team allowed based on shot location

For example, the Denver Nuggets allowed only 8.9% of opponent’s first-quarter field goal attempts this season to come from the corner. That was the third lowest rate, so they rank 28th in this category. If a team has a high number in the chart (second, fourth, sixth, etc.), that means it surrendered a large proportion of attempts from this area relative to the league. 

As another example, Indiana bled first quarter restricted area attempts at the second largest rate, so the Pacers are “2” in that particular column. 

Restricted AreaPaint (non-RA)MidrangeCorner 3PTAbove the Break 3PT2PT3PT
Boston Celtics28882781714
Cleveland Cavaliers8266729923
Dallas Mavericks201625211615
Denver Nuggets161042825229
Indiana Pacers26113030130
Minnesota Timberwolves191272019824
New York Knicks529163221913
Oklahoma City Thunder152224117247

How can this chart potentially inform first basket betting? Based on the Pacers column, it may be wise to target paint scorers instead of spot-up shooters given the fact that Indiana ranks 30th in both the corner and above-the-break 3-pointer columns. 

However, tipoff win percentage, game first FGA%, team first FGA%, and other context such as injuries can also be important parts of the equation. 

Cavaliers vs. Celtics

Tipoff: Kristaps Porzingis was 2-1 versus Jarrett Allen in the tip this season. Allen is an elite jumper. However, Porzingis remains arguably the best. 

Regular season matchups: Jaylen Brown had Boston’s first attempt in two of the three games between these clubs this season. 

First quarter stats to know: 

First basket data: Game first FGA percentage indicates how often a player had the first shot of the game during that player’s starts. For example, if Jonas Valanciunas secured it in 10 of 50 starts, then he would own a game first FGA% of 20%. On the other hand, team first FGA% is how often a player took the first shot for his team in games that that player started. 

Game First FGA%Team First FGA%Starts
Max Strus22.8%25.7%70
Jaylen Brown21.4%31.4%70
Jarrett Allen16.8%24.6%77
Donovan Mitchell16.3%32.7%55
Jrue Holiday15.9%20.2%69
Al Horford15.1%18.1%33
Kristaps Porzingis14%24.5%57
Evan Mobley10%16%50
Jayson Tatum9.4%18.9%74
Darius Garland8.7%12.2%57
Derrick White6.8%8.2%73

Pacers vs. Knicks

Tipoff: Myles Turner went 1-0 against Isaiah Hartenstein. Although Turner typically struggles to control the tip, Hartenstein was one of the worst jumpers all year. 

Regular season matchups: Jalen Brunson took New York’s first shot in two of three matchups versus Indiana, which is not surprising considering he easily paced the Knicks in team first FGA%. 

First quarter stats to know:

First basket data: 

Game First FGA%Team First FGA%Starts
Jalen Brunson22%44.1%77
Myles Turner16.8%36.3%77
OG Anunoby13%30.4%23
Andrew Nembhard8.5%31.9%47
Pascal Siakam7.3%17%41
Josh Hart7.1%9.5%42
Aaron Nesmith6.3%12.7%47
Donte DiVincenzo4.7%11.1%42
Isaiah Hartenstein4%12.2%63
Tyrese Haliburton1.4%7.3%68

Mavericks vs. Thunder

Tipoff: Chet Holmgren prevailed 2-0 over Daniel Gafford this season, although it’s worth noting that one of those wins came while Gafford was on the Wizards. 

Regular season matchups: In the sole game between these two clubs with Gafford on the Mavericks, Holmgren had the first shot. 

First quarter stats to know:

First basket data: 

Game First FGA%Team First FGA%Starts
Kyrie Irving18.9%31%58
Josh Giddey16.2%27.5%80
Chet Holmgren14.6%30.4%82
Luka Doncic11.4%28.5%70
Luguentz Dort10.1%16.4%79
Jalen Williams9.8%21.1%71
Derrick Jones Jr.4.5%12.1%66
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander4%8%75
PJ Washington3.5%14.2%28
Daniel Gafford0%14.2%21

Timberwolves vs. Nuggets

Tipoff: Nikola Jokic is 3-1 versus Rudy Gobert this season, including game one.

Regular season matchups: Nikola Jokic had Denver’s first field goal attempt in two of the four games between these squads this season.

First quarter stats to know:

First basket data: 

Game First FGA%Team First FGA%Starts
Nikola Jokic22.7%37.9%79
Mike Conley11.8%23.6%76
Jamal Murray11.8%18.6%59
Karl-Anthony Towns11.2%29%62
Jaden McDaniels11.2%21.1%71
Michael Porter Jr.11.1%18.5%81
Aaron Gordon8.2%12.3%73
Anthony Edwards6.4%11.5%78
Rudy Gobert3.9%19.7%76
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope2.6%14.4%76