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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 24, 2012 at 9:07 PM

Sports bettors have to take one day off from football (the bowls resume Wednesday!), but there’s plenty of money-making opportunities in a Christmas Day NBA Extravaganza that’s being nationally televised by ESPN and ABC.

As promised, we’re back with stat previews for all five games. To make things quick and easy, we’ll use league rankings in offensive and defensive efficiency. That’s points scored and allowed adjusted for pace…which allows for a much more accurate read on both sides of the ball.

Let’s take the games in schedule order…


Boston: 17th on offense, 11th on defense

Brooklyn: 10th on offense, 20th on defense

Brooklyn plays at a very slow pace under Avery Johnson, which has tricked many in the media into thinking they play good defense. They’re actually a bottom third team after you adjust for tempo. Boston has been dancing around the .500 mark this year as they transition to life without Ray Allen. You get the sense that this veteran team is once again biding its time until the stretch run. They’ve done that before under this coach and it’s worked out very well for them. We should note that Boston has been bringing defensive intensity against its biggest Eastern rivals. And, Brooklyn isn’t backing down from anybody as the new kids on the blog. Could be a very physical affair, particularly with the players grouchy about having to play so early on a holiday! JIM HURLEY will be checking with his sources about possibilities on the Under. Those of you who like first half and second half bets should note that New Jersey has had many fast starts followed by poor finishes this year.

NEW YORK at LA LAKERS (3 p.m. ET on ABC)

New York: 2nd on offense, 16th on defense

LA Lakers: 6th on offense, 15th on defense

Steve Nash is back for the Lakers, after making his return Saturday Night at Golden State. The team desperately needs his on-court leadership and playmaking ability. The offense still ranks very well because they have Kobe Bryant, and because they’ve played a relatively soft schedule. You could see in crunch time vs. quality that the offense was sputtering. At Golden State, the Lakers had a huge fourth quarter then won in overtime. The opposite of sputtering in crunch time! New York has been fantastic on offense this year thanks to their emphasis on three-pointers. That’s exactly what’s derailed the Lakers in recent playoff action…opponents who can spread things out and make open looks. If both teams show up ready to play…this could be true Christmas Showtime. JIM HURLEY will be considering the Over because of those stat profiles (great offenses vs. average defenses in a game where defensive intensity may not take hold on a holiday). The Knicks will get some consideration because of LA’s past troubles guarding the perimeter.

OKLAHOMA CITY at MIAMI (5:30 p.m. ET on ABC)

Oklahoma City: 1st on offense, 10th on defense

Miami: 3rd on offense, 12th on defense

A rematch of last year’s championship round, and a potential preview of this season’s Finals once again because both teams are just as good! Losing James Harden didn’t hurt Oklahoma City at all because they have talent and brains. They still have the best offense in pro basketball even without Harden! Miami went through a stretch where they were playing very soft on defense. That embarrassed them into picking up the intensity on that side of the ball…which has moved them into the upper half of the league. Very similar stat profiles in this game and the one above it. You should already be thinking about how Miami and New York are going to be dealing with the playoffs in the East, and should one of them make it to the Finals (which is extremely likely at this point). Look for Kevin Durant and LeBron James to put on quite a show. We also have a stat profile that suggests a possible Over play here. We’re not going to talk about the team side because JIM HURLEY has something up his sleeve.

HOUSTON at CHICAGO (8:05 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Houston: 7th on offense, 20th on defense

Chicago: 24th on offense, 4th on defense

Interesting chess match here, as James Harden and the Rockets will try to penetrate that stellar Chicago defense. The Bulls are the only team in the East that’s slowed down New York! This one doesn’t quite have the star power of the two games right above it on the schedule. It will be a great game for true fans of the sport though. Can Jeremy Lin step up and make a difference? JIM HURLEY has told you often over the years that the best betting value often comes in games that oddsmakers and the public are paying less attention to. Perhaps the top play of the day will be in this game. The straight up winner and the cover will likely come down to what Harden can or can’t do on the road against this stifling defense.

DENVER at LA CLIPPERS (10:35 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Denver: 8th on offense, 17th on defense

LA Clippers: 4th on offense, 3rd on defense

There was a lot of optimism about the Nuggets heading into the season. Some of the math guys were penciling them in for 58-60 wins. Games aren’t played on paper. And, this team has had trouble finding lineups that can work on both sides of the floor at the same time. Their scorers can’t defend. Their defenders can’t shoot. Yet, they still end up ranking okay in the big picture because of fast break points and overall athleticism. Are they ready for a road game against the Clippers? Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and company are the only top team that’s grading out as elite on both sides of the ball right now. That’s helped by a bench that is performing more efficiently than many starting units across the league. The Western playoffs are going to be an absolute war this year. What’s already shaping up as a battle will become even tougher if the Lakers can get going, and if Dirk Nowitzki’s return helps boost the Mavs back to relevancy again. Do the Clippers have what it takes to come out on top? Are the Clippers on the radar for a major release from JIM HURLEY to wrap up the Xmas extravaganza?

What a great day and night of pro basketball!

You can purchase the top releases from this Christmas Day quintuple-header right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure you take care of business early to get full value. The main office will be open again Wednesday morning if you’d like to talk to a representative about future service. NETWORK’S number is 1-800-323-4453. The bowl schedule really picks up Thursday, so Wednesday is a great time to lock yourself in for all remaining football…and for any football/basketball combo’s you’re interested in trying out.

Our NOTEBOOK schedule the rest of the week:

WEDNESDAY: a preview of the Little Caesar’s Bowl

THURSDAY: a preview of the bowl tripleheader that features Baylor-UCLA

FRIDAY: a preview of the bowl tripleheader that features Rutgers-Virginia Tech

SATURDAY: a preview of a bowl quintuple-header!

SUNDAY: a preview of the big games from the NFL’s regular season finale

The early bowl slate has been high on entertainment but short on big name programs. That’s about to change. The big boys will begin taking the field Thursday Night. And…it’s OFF TO THE RACES in terms of bowl excitement all the way through the BCS Championship game.

Be sure you’re with us EVERY DAY so you know what’s really happening in the college bowls and the NFL playoff drive!

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