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Wednesday (April 12)

   by Larry Ness - 04/12/2006

Arizona, Boston, Minnesota, New York (Yankees) and Washington all played their 2006 home openers yesterday, becoming the final five of the 30 MLB clubs do have done so.

My free play for Wednesday is the Ut Jazz over the Den Nuggets at 9:05 ET. Tonight in the NBA, I'm offering a rare LEGEND Play (just 2nd since early-Feb). My high-end NBA plays (20*s, 22*s or LEGENDs) have been on 'fire' since the All Star break, going 8-2 or 80% ATS! Don't miss tonight's LEGEND, a play I just began releasing on the net this past year. MLB fans, off a 3-1 start to the week, I'm releasing a single game tonight, my NL Game of the Month.

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 5-3 to match Cleveland with an AL-best 6-1 start. The Twins beat the A's 7-6, on the strength of a six-run 3rd inning, after averaging just 2.8 runs per game in their five losses of a 1-5 start. As for the Yankees, a five-run 8th propelled them to a 9-7 win over the Royals, as they set a new team record by winning their ninth consecutive home opener.

Losing their home openers were the Diamondbacks and Nationals. Arizona lost 6-5 to the Rockies, who have now won four straight on the road. This from a team that opened the 2005 season by losing 33 of their first 40 road games! Dick Cheney was met by more boos than cheers when throwing out the first pitch in Washington and it didn't get any better for the home team after that, as the Nationals lost to the Mets 7-1, to fall to 2-6.

Heading into Wednesday's full 15-game schedule, the Indians and Red Sox are leading the way in the AL (both are at 6-1), with the 2-7 Rangers bring up the rear. The Mets own the NL's quickest start at 5-1 with the Phillies (1-6) and Marlins (1-5) trailing the pack. In the NL Central, six of the seven teams own winning records, with only the 2-7 Pirates struggling out of the gate. WGN airs the Reds/Cubs at 2:20 ET while ESPN2 carries a doubleheader, the Royals/Yankees at 1:05 ET and the Blue Jays/Red Sox at 7:05 ET.

Last night in the NBA's Eastern Conference, the Heat beat the Raptors 106-97 and the Bulls edged the Nets, 104-101. The 51-27 Heat now lead the Nets (47-30) by 3 1/2 games for the conference's second-best mark, with just four games remaining (a near 'lock'). Chicago's win moved the Bulls back into a tie with Philadelphia at 36-41 for the East's final spot, with both teams just a game back of Indiana and Milwaukee (both at 37-40).

San Antonio's 104-95 win over the Sonics gave the Spurs their third 60-win season in team history and moved them a full game ahead of the Mavs in their battle for the West's best record (60-18 to 59-19). The T-wolves lost their 14th straight road game last night (have now lost 27 of their last 30 away from the Target Center!), dropping a 92-76 decision at Memphis. The win moves the Grizzlies a half-game in front of the Clippers for the West's fifth seed.

The Lakers beat the Warriors last night 111-100, LA's eighth win in its last 11 games. The Warriors have now lost nine straight, matching the Raptors for the league's longest active losing streak. LA's win coupled with the Kings' 123-110 loss at home to the Suns, moves LA one game ahead of Sacramento for the West's seventh seed. The Kings led the Suns by 13 at the half last night but saw the Suns outscore them 72-42 in the second half, on 71 percent shooting!

Tonight's busy 12-game schedule features an ESPN double header. The Cavs are in Detroit to meet the Pistons at 8:05 ET and the Mavs are in Oakland to take on the Warriors at 10:35 ET.

The Cavs/Pistons game may not hold all that much interest, as Cleveland has stated that LeBron would see limited minutes this last week as he gets ready for his first postseason. As for Detroit, the 62-15 Pistons are still trying to nail down home court advantage for the entire playoffs. A win tonight, will tie the team record for wins in a single season with the 1988-89 team. The Pistons are 35-3 at home this year and are favored by 7 1/2 points (183).

In the nightcap, the Mavs will look to extend their current five-game winning streak and move to within a half-game of the Spurs. The Warriors have lost nine straight games (2-6-1 ATS), while the Mavs are 26-13 on the road. However, Golden State has beaten the Mavs twice this year in Dallas, 111-109 and 122-121, so it's unlikely the Mavs will take them lightly. Dallas is favored by nine points with a total of 194 1/2.

In the East, Washington (5) is at Milwaukee (T-6 with Indiana) where the Bucks are favored by 3 1/2 points with a total of 207 (8:05 ET). The Wizards enter on a three-game losing streak while the Bucks come in on a four-game losing streak. The Pacers (tied with the Bucks at 37-40) host the Celtics (7:05 ET) and are favored by 7 1/2 points with a total of 189. However, the Celtics have beaten the Pacers in all three meetings this year.

The Bulls and 76ers are tied for the East's final playoff spot and both are on the road tonight. Chicago's in Atlanta at 7:05 ET (Bulls are favored by three points) and the 76ers are in New Jersey at 7:35 ET (Nets are favored by five points). Orlando, barely alive at three games back of Chicago and Philly with just five games left, hosts Toronto at 7:05 ET. The Magic have won nine of their last 10 overall and 10 straight at home, while the Raptors own a nine-game losing streak. The Magic are favored by nine points.

Over in the West, Memphis is in Charlotte (27-55) at 7:35 ET, trying to stay a half-game up on the Clippers (for the fifth seed), who host the Blazers at 10:35 ET. The Grizzlies, who have lost seven of their last 10 on the road are favored by 3 1/2 points (192 1/2) and the Clippers are favored by 13 points (187) over a Portland team which is 6-32 on the road. Utah hosts Denver at 9:05 ET and the Jazz are four-point favorites (197), hoping to catch the Kings, who lead them for that final playoff spot by two games.

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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