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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Hey, you know it’s going to be a fiesta when the NBA plays in Mexico City Wednesday night for the Houston Rockets/Minnesota Timberwolves game that will be internationally televised by ESPN. Let’s see if we can make some dinero while we watch!

The Houston Rockets are playing so well out of the gate that many pundits are thinking that losing Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons actually made them better! The addition of Trevor Ariza helped make up for those absences. And, you do see a more balanced, functional approach this year with James Harden in full control of the offense, while Dwight Howard anchors the defense.

Minnesota was putting on some good shows early with Ricky Rubio and his young teammates. But, Rubio is now out for several weeks with a severe ankle sprain. Can the youngsters stay focused in a fiesta atmosphere? Will the Rockets take this opportunity to show a huge audience that they’re a truly serious contender for the Western title? Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats are saying about the teams so far.

By the way, neither team has played since the weekend because the league wanted to make sure there were no fatigue situations getting in the way of the entertainment. Neither team plays again until Friday, so there’s no reason for the players or coaches to hold back. Ideal situation for matchup handicappers because you’re going to get peak focus from BOTH teams.


Offensive Efficiency

Houston: 105.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #10 in the NBA)

Minnesota: 100.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #18 in the NBA)

Houston still features a mix of three-point shooting and attacks of the basket by Harden. They shoot a lot of free throws and a lot of treys. It’s only been good enough for tenth best in the NBA thus far…which will surprise some in the media who can’t shut up about this “cutting edge” offense. It is slightly above league average thus far. Nothing earth shattering. Minnesota’s earth was shattered when Rubio got hurt. They’re going to be in some trouble with offensive flow waiting for him to recover.


Defensive Efficiency

Houston: 92.5 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)

Minnesota: 102.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #15 in the NBA)

This is where Houston is making great headway. They actually rank #2 in the league once you adjust for pace. Harden is guarding people more often this year. Howard is defending like he means it in the paint. Losing Lin and Parsons actually helps on this side of the ball. We talked about Golden State being much better on defense and worse on offense than many realized yesterday. The same thing is true for Houston. Minnesota ranks a respectable league average so far. Be sure to watch rookie Andrew Wiggins play defense for the T-Wolves tonight. Is he going to live up to the hype?


Pace Ranking

Houston: #8

Minnesota: #11

Both teams are above average in tempo…but Minnesota may slow down without Rubio. Houston is likely to attack aggressively in this atmosphere…both with fast break forays to the rim and quick three-pointers whenever there’s an open look.


Against the Spread

Houston: 5-2

Minnesota: 4-2

Like Golden State, Houston caught oddsmakers napping out of the gate. The line is starting to catch up…so smart handicappers will be monitoring value opportunities on a game-by-game basis. Minnesota has been a pleasant surprise. Too many assumed doormat status with the loss of Kevin Love. They did get some talent back for him…and that talent isn’t afraid to guard people at the rim!

JIM HURLEY might have something for you here…but customers only get the best options on the schedule. He’s also looking at Indiana/Miami in Game One of ESPN’s doubleheader, as well as Detroit/Washington, Orlando/New York, and Brooklyn/Phoenix. Oh, there are a couple of MAC games in college football that may show up in the mix as well.

Daily BEST BETS in all sports can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include both football and basketball. The stretch run has arrived on the college and pro gridiron. And, early season basketball has blown lines all over the place!

It’s back to football for five straight days of TV previews here in the NOTEBOOK beginning tomorrow. Coming up soon…

Thursday: NFL Preview…Buffalo at Miami on the NFL Network

Friday: College Preview…Mississippi State at Alabama on CBS

Saturday: College Preview…Florida State at Miami in ABC

Sunday: NFL Preview…New England at Indianapolis on NBC

Monday: NFL Preview…Pittsburgh at Tennessee on ESPN

Those are HUGE games in both the college and pro playoff pictures. Get great handicapping information every day here in the NOTEBOOK…then hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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