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IT’S PAU GASOL AND THE BULLS FACING PHIL JACKSON’S KNICKS...WHAT?!

A new NBA season always brings a lot of changes. There are nine new head coaches this season. LeBron James will return to his old stomping grounds when the Cleveland Cavaliers open their 2014-15 campaign Thursday Night. Handicappers must adjust to all the new faces in new places. They’ll get a chance to do that in a national TV game Wednesday Night when:

*Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls visit
*Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks

What the heck?! Hard to visualize that one. Gasol has been with the Lakers so long that it’s hard to visualize him in any other color. Phil Jackson isn’t on the sidelines any more. But, he might as well be because hand-picked head coach Derek Fisher (who played for Jackson in LA) has taught the Knicks the triangle offense. Gasol’s going to know where those passes are going.

There aren’t any relevant in-season stats for Game One, so we’ll crunch some numbers for these teams from last season to at least set the stage for a game you’ll likely be watching and betting. Let’s see what happened last year, and try to anticipate how the new season will play out for the Bulls and the Knicks...

Offensive Efficiency (last season)
Chicago: 99.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #27 in the NBA)
New York: 105.4 per 100 possessions (ranked #11 in the NBA)

Chicago had a horrible offense. But, Derrick Rose missed the season, and will hopefully be able to return at something resembling his old form. That plus Gasol should boost the per-possession offense up to at least league average. New York graded out fairly well last year on this side of the ball because selfish scorers made their shots. Can Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith adjust to the triangle? If so, this offense could climb a few spots. If not, drama will rise quickly with the New York tabloids.

Defensive Efficiency (last season)
Chicago: 97.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)
New York: 106.5 per 100 possessions (ranked #24 in the NBA)

The Bulls are going to play great defense for this coach. Though, the slow-footed Gasol and “playing it safe” version of Rose could cause some defensive headaches. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chicago drop a few spots as a result. New York is bound to get better because Jackson has always emphasized defense. He doesn’t get much press for that...go look up the defensive efficiency rankings of his teams! New York won’t be a serious playoff threat until they move up to the top half of the league in this stat.

Pace Ranking (last season)
Chicago: #28
New York: #29

Both teams were slow as molasses last year. Chicago likes it that way. New York does NOT! There will definitely be more pace and energy with the Knicks this year, and therefore more exciting basketball for the fans.

Against the Spread (last season)
Chicago: 41-40-1
New York: 38-44

New York was overrated, which is often the case for big city teams who are on TV too much. Carmelo has generally been overrated too, though he really wasn’t to blame last year for what didn’t work out. In terms of 2014-15, expectations are pretty high for Chicago...a team expected to rank #2 in the East behind Cleveland. That sets up a chance for the Bulls to be overrated out of the gate.

JIM HURLEY loves the start of a new season because he knows his exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach is going to be ahead of the oddsmaking curve. Won the opener Tuesday with Houston (-6) over the Lakers 108-90! His scouts, his sources, his statheads, and his Wise Guy connections have been studying the Preseason game action and sharp betting trends very closely. His computer programmers have already played out the first month of action to account for all possibilities. NETWORK IS GOING TO HIT THE HARDWOOD RUNNING!

Wednesday or full season basketball can be purchased in the hours leading up to first tip. Game day BEST BETS in all sports are always available for credit card purchase. Be sure you add the NBA into your football mix so you can win SEVEN DAYS A WEEK! If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

It’s back to football Thursday here in the NOTEBOOK. Here’s the schedule for the rest of the week...

Thursday: NFL Preview...New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers on CBS
Friday: College Football Preview...#4 Auburn at #7 Ole Miss
Sunday: NFL Sunday Night Preview...Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers on NBC
Monday: NFL Monday Night Preview...Indianapolis Colts at NY Giants on ESPN

Tonight...the focus is on pro basketball. Head to the basket...here comes an ALLEY-OOP for all the money from JIM HURLEY!

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