The NBA season is underway, and Ohioans are getting their first crack at betting on a full NBA season. The Cleveland Cavaliers got things rolling in exciting fashion with a last-second road victory over the Brooklyn Nets to open the new campaign.
Everything started and ended with Cavs star Donovan Mitchell. He made the go-ahead bucket near the end of the game, and he also got things going by making the first basket to start the game.
One of the hottest betting trends over the past couple of years has been NBA first-basket betting. It has become a viral topic on social media, with gamblers posting crazy parlays they’ve hit. It’s a wild phenomenon that has helped NBA betting grow in popularity. And that trend will continue in the Ohio sports betting market.
Mitchell got the job done for the Cavaliers to start the 2023-2024 campaign. Here’s how the Cavaliers faired last season in terms of first-basket betting.
How NBA first-basket betting works
There is no quicker way to get a night of NBA betting underway than wagering on who will make the first basket in a game. It is a high-variable result that can put you on the edge of your seat from the opening tip.
The object of the bet is pretty straightforward. You bet on the person who you think will make the first basket. Sounds simple. However, FanDuel Ohio made slightly different rules. Most sportsbooks do not count free throws for first-basket props. But FanDuel does count free throws.
For example, a bettor on FanDuel in 2022 turned 50 cents into over $130,000 by nailing six first-basket props. In other words, the odds on the parlay was +26,056,700. The last leg of the bet was LeBron James scoring first in a Los Angeles Lakers game against the Sacramento Kings.
James technically didn’t score the first “basket.” He instead hit a free throw to open the scoring. FanDuel counts free throws as it states clearly in its rules that it pays out on “the first score of the game.”
Most other books do not count free throws as part of this prop. It’s who scores the first actual basket. So, as we run through the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first basket numbers, we did factor in free throws as they matter when betting on FanDuel.
Mitchell, Garland kings of Cavs first-basket scoring
There are two parts to betting on who will score first. The first part is deciding who will win the first possession. The Cavs trot out two 7-footers at the start of the game. They always have a good shot at winning the jump and thus have a good chance of putting up the first shot.
The second part of first-basket betting is selecting the player who will score first. That gets a little trickier. Most try to gauge what style of basketball a team plays. Others go with the starter that has the lowest odds. More often than not, it comes down to who is the team’s best player. For the most part, that is the same rule for the Cavs.
2022-2023 Cavs first baskets (according to rules of most sportsbooks)
Donovan Mitchell was the top first-basket scorer for Cleveland last season, knocking down the first bucket of the game 14 times when going by the rules of most Ohio sportsbooks. That includes doing it once in the Cavs’ playoff series with the New York Knicks. However, his backcourt mate Darius Garland was not fair behind, hitting the first basket of the game 12 times.
Next came the Cavs big men. Evan Mobley scored the first nine times, while Jarrett Allen hit the first basket eight times. Let’s also give a quick shoutout to role players Lamar Stevens, Dean Wade, Caris LeVert and Isaac Okoro, who combined for five first baskets last season.
2022-2023 Cavs first baskets (according to FanDuel Sportsbook rules)
From what we can gather, FanDuel is the only Ohio platform that allows you to win a first-basket bet off of a made free throw. So, these rules do impact the numbers slightly.
Based on FanDuel rules, Cavs opponents made the first bucket 45 times. That includes occasions when the other teams made a free throw before a Cavs player made the first actual “basket.” Under these rules, Mitchell only surpasses Gardland by one basket, that being that first made-bucket in that playoff series.
Jarrett Allen edges Mobley by three under FanDuel rules. Meanwhile, the free throws took one away from the Cavs’ role players.
The 2023-2024 Cavielrs have brought back mostly the same core pieces. Barring injury, we should see similar first-basket results this time around.