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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

One of the most anticipated NBA regular seasons in league history got even MORE interesting this past weekend when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets. We’ll be dealing with all of the major storylines in the coming days and weeks for sports bettors right here in the NOTEBOOK. We start NOW with a look at the two co-favorites for the NBA title who happen to be appearing in national TV games on opening night.

*The MIAMI HEAT host the Boston Celtics in the first game of TNT’s doubleheader. Miami is the defending league champion of course…and they’re the betting favorite in Las Vegas to repeat because they added Ray Allen in the offseason. Yes, the best got better!

*The LOS ANGELES LAKERS host the Dallas Mavericks in the nightcap. Unless you spent the last few months on the moon, you know that Dwight Howard and Steve Nash have joined the Lakers to create one of the most dynamic (if old and potentially injury prone) rosters in recent memory. The initial surge of “This team will be UNBEATABLE” has subsided. But, the Lakers are still seen as virtual co-favorites in the West with a much younger Oklahoma City squad.

Let’s crunch some numbers from the TV games to get you ready for tonight and the early stages of the season for these high profile teams. We’re planning to focus on the NBA on Tuesdays and Wednesday through November (with some detours for college basketball) here in the NOTEBOOK, with Thursdays-Mondays still devoted to stat profiles of main event TV action in college and pro football.

BOSTON AT MIAMI (8:05 p.m. on TNT)

Las Vegas line: Miami by 6.5. total of 185

Home court advantage is generally worth three points in the NBA…though there are teams out West where it’s closer to four because opponents have long trips coming in (plus, altitude influences the number in Denver and Utah). We’ll assume that Miami’s getting the standard respect here…which means that they’re seen as about 2.5 to 3 points better on a neutral court than the Celtics…and would be pick-em or -1 as a road favorite. Some may think that’s low given that Miami swiped Ray Allen from Boston! Oddsmakers are generally conservative with their numbers early in a new season when everyone is fresh and healthy.

For our previews today, we’ll use the final numbers from last year in key categories we emphasized during our playoff previews. You regulars will recognize them. You newcomers will have no trouble getting up to speed.


Boston: 98.9 (24th in the NBA)

Miami: 104.3 (6th in the NBA)

This is points scored per 100 possessions, to adjust for the pollution that can be created by fast or slow paces. Miami already had the sixth best offense in the NBA last year before bringing in Allen’s perimeter sharpshooting. They are basically impossible to stop unless you have a FANTASTIC defense or LeBron James or Dwyane Wade is hurt. Boston only ranked 24th last year even with Allen because the team was getting old…and because Rajon Rondo has one or two shaky offensive games for everyone good one he plays. Big edge to Miami in this category.


Boston: 95.5 (2nd in the NBA)

Miami: 97.1 (4th in the NBA)

This is points allowed per 100 possessions, the defensive version of the prior stat. Both of these are elite teams defensively. Boston has a fighting chance to hang with Miami because they rank a little better. Losing Allen doesn’t hurt them defensively either. We’ll be interested to see how newcomer Jared Sullinger from Ohio State contributes in the paint to this category and the one coming up next.


Boston: 47.3% (28th in the NBA)

Miami: 51.1% (6th in the NBA)

This is the percentage of missed shots that a team rebounds. You hear us talk all the time about “defense and rebounding” winning championships. Miami was very strong in those areas last year even though the media loves hyping their offensive prowess. Boston has pursued a strategy of “forfeiting” offensive rebounds to get back on defense. That kills them in this stat, but them helps them play elite defense because everyone’s in position. So, they don’t take as big a hit in this stat as you might think. It won’t matter if they’re hitting their jump shots. It will matter A LOT if they’re not, because Miami will win “second chance points” by quite a bit.


Jim Hurley will be talking things over with his on site sources before making a final call. Neither team plays Wednesday, so there are no immediate distractions. There’s a chance that the Over will get a look because Miami loves running the ball when everyone’s fresh…which they did over the first few weeks last year and have talked about doing again this time around.


Las Vegas line: Lakers by 8.5, total of 187.5

Kobe Bryant has a bad foot and is reportedly going to miss this game for the Lakers. Dirk Nowitzki is out for awhile for the Mavericks. Oddsmakers are very skeptical about Dallas’ chances to be competitive vs. quality out West without the big German. The shorthanded Lakers are getting a lot of respect here for a season opener. The market is telling you Dallas isn’t a playoff team without Nowitzki, while the Lakers still have plenty of weaponry even if Kobe is out.


Dallas: 101.0 (20th in the NBA)

LA Lakers: 103.3 (10th in the NBA)

The Lakers were a disappointment offensively last year given their size advantage over most teams and the scoring prowess of Bryant. What got lost in the shuffle was that Kobe is actually inefficient as a scorer these days (the point volume is there, but so is the number of missed shots and turnovers), and that there was no frontline chemistry with Andrew Bynum taking up space and pouting. He’s now in Philadelphia, which should help ball movement immensely. Poor showing for Dallas as they crashed after their championship season due to roster changes that didn’t work out.


Dallas: 99.7 (8th in the NBA)

LA Lakers: 101.7 (13th in the NBA)

To us, this is an even bigger disappointment for the Lakers. Head coach Mike Brown is a defensive coach, and the frontline had a lot of reach. Still, the Lakers could only grade out slightly better than league average. Adding in Dwight Howard is HUGE as long as he can keep his back healthy. Dallas didn’t get a lot of media respect for their defense last year. Their braintrust (coach Rick Carlisle and the stat analysts the team employs) do a great job of disrupting what opposing offenses are trying to do.


Dallas: 49.3 (20th in the NBA)

LA Lakers: 53% (2nd in the NBA)

Great stuff here from the Lakers, and a big problem for Dallas. Well, that was true LAST year. Tonight, things might get even worse with Dwight Howard interested in showing Lakers fans what they’ll be getting in the paint this year.


The line is so high that garbage time might become an issue. The Lakers had a horrible Preseason record the past few weeks because the bench was so weak. We’ll be monitoring garbage time very closely for this team out of the gate to see if oddsmakers are properly capturing reality. No reason to disagree with the market assessment that the Lakers are currently the much superior team.

The start of regular season basketball allows sports bettors to win SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. Fitting that baseball’s World Series ended just as the NBA was starting. JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK plans to hit the court running Tuesday night with the best from the board (that also includes Washington at Cleveland in a potential sleeper). Build your bankrolls tonight…then do more of the same tomorrow with a nine-game schedule that brings much of the league into 2012 action. Game day releases will be available a few hours before kickoff in the NBA all through the season.

If you have any questions about our seasonal NBA offers, or remaining college and pro football, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you Wednesday to talk more NBA on the first big night of action. Coming up Friday and Saturday will be stat previews for the Alabama-LSU and Oregon-USC games that have been circled on the calendar since before the season even started. Be sure you’re with us EVERY DAY in the NOTEBOOK so you know what’s REALLY happening in the world of sports!

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