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Thursday. April 27

   by Larry Ness - 04/27/2006

The Lakers, Mavericks and Pistons all won last night, as the eight first round series have now completed two games. Home teams have gone 13-3 SU and 7-7-2 ATS through the first 16 games. The famous (or infamous) "Zig-Zag" theory, where one plays on the SU loser from the previous game, went 4-2-2 ATS in the eight Game 2s.

A short schedule tonight and I don't have a free play. However, I do have two of my exclusive Las Vegas Insider Plays, one in MLB and one in the NBA. In the NBA I'm following consecutive 15-point wins on the Mavs (Weds) and the Nets (Tues), as both games covered easily.

The over/under results stand at 7-9 in favor of the under. Interestingly, the Lakers/Suns series has seen the total for both games close about 215, with both games going under (107-102 and 99-93). The other 14 games have seen the closing totals range from a low of 175 (Ind/NJ Game 1) to a high of 196 1/2 (Chi/Mia Game 2)

Five of the eight series have seen teams take 2-0 series' leads while the other three series are tied at one-all. Dallas (over Memphis), Detroit (over Milwaukee), the LA Clippers (over Denver), Miami (over Chicago) and San Antonio (over Sacramento) are the teams holding the 2-0 leads.

It should be noted that since Bird and Magic re-invented the NBA as rookies in 1979-80, 117 of the 123 teams to take 2-0 series leads (in best-of-seven series), have gone on to win. Going all the way back to the NBA's first year (1946-47), only 16 teams have fallen behind 0-2 in a seven-game series and come back to win.

Wednesday's recaps

The Bucks shot much better than they did in Game 1 last night (.435 to .356) plus upped their point total from 74 points to 98 points. However, it still resulted in an 11-point loss (109-98), a game that fell pretty much on the 'number.' Redd scored 29 points (after getting just 11 in Game 1) but TJ Ford was the only other Buck to score more than 10 points!

Four of Detroit's five starters scored in double digits (Prince had 22 and Billups had 20) plus the Pistons' bench contributed 33 points. Detroit ended a streak of three consecutive Game 2 losses, as well as a stretch in which the team had lost four of its previous five Game 2s, going back to the 2004 NBA Finals.

Memphis got off to a fast start in Dallas last night, scoring 31 points in the first quarter. However, the bad news was the Mavs scored 32. Memphis then went on to score just 25 points combined, in the second and third quarters, going through a stretch of 16 straight possessions without scoring a point (0-for-8 in FG attempts plus nine turnovers)! Memphis is now 0-10 (2-8 ATS) in its playoff history. Nowitzki scored 31 points for the second straight game for the Mavs, as Dallas won 94-79.

The Suns also suffered a scoring drought in their game last night, going a stretch of 7:22 without scoring. Phoenix shot just 34 percent in the first half (38 points), allowing the Lakers to take a 15-point lead. Kobe improved from 22 points in Game 1 to 29 points last night (also had 10 rebounds and 5 assists) but it was Lamar Odom's second straight 21-point game plus LA's bench outscoring the Suns bench by 21-4 that was the key to LA's 99-93 win.

Thursday's games

There are three playoff games scheduled tonight, with Miami/Chicago at 8:05 ET and LA Clippers/Denver at 10:35 ET being carried on TNT. The third Game 3 on tonight's schedule is New Jersey/Indiana at 7:35 ET. Early lines have the Pacers favored by one point over the Nets (175), the Bulls favored by one over the Heat (199 1/2) and the Nuggets favored by five points over the Clippers (192 1/2). The Clippers and Heat lead their series 2-0, while the Nets/Pacers series is tied 1-1.

The Nets ended a seven-game playoff losing streak with their 90-75 win in Game 2 but enter this game having lost five of their last six postseason road games. The Pacers were forced to play without Peja in Game 2, a player who averaged 19.5 PPG in 40 games with Indiana this year. O'Neal and Jackson combined for just 22 points in that loss (O'Neal was just 3-of-12 shooting) and Jackson injured his finger late in the game. Jackson is expected to play but Peja (knee) could be a gametime decision again.

New Jersey has been horrible from the three-point arc in this series, going just 3-of-30. Carter bounced back from a 12-for-33 effort in Game 1 (31 points) to go 12-of-20 in Game 2 (33 points). Kidd is just 5-of-21 in the two games (5.5 PPG) but did have 11 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 2. The "wild card" for New Jersey could be the 7-0 Krstic, who has scored 42 points with 16 rebounds in the first two games.

Can they Bulls beat the Heat? They haven't been able to stop either Wade (25.5 PPG) or Shaq (24.5-11.5) plus Posey, Walker and Williams have combined to average 44 PPG in Miami's first two wins. The Bulls shot .455 and .532 from the floor in the first two games (1-0-1 ATS), including making 13-of-26 three pointers in Game 1 and 8-of-14 in Game 2. They've averaged 107 PPG in the two games, yet find themselves down 0-2.

It's hard to imagine them shooting much better at home but maybe they can slow down the Heat? Or maybe they can just outscore them? Nocioni has been great, going for 18 points and 16 rebounds in Game 1 and scoring 30 points in Game 2 (13-of-15 on FGs). Gordon got 35 in Game 1 but just 13 in Game 2, while Hinrich followed his 19-point Game 1 effort with 29 in Game 2. Miami is just 9-21-1 ATS since the All Star break.

The Clippers have won just one playoff series in their history and that came as the Buffalo Braves back in 1976. Their first round series this year with the Nuggets, marks the first time in team history that they've owned the home court advantage. LA took advantage of that by winning Game 1 89-87 and Game 2, 98-87. The Nuggets were bad in Game 1 (shot .385) and worse in Game 2 (shot .342, including 5-of-17 on threes).

Denver opened Game 2 by shooting 6-of-24 in the 1st quarter (0-6 on threes) and trailed 32-13. They'll have to start better here and should be more comfortable at home. Anthony shot poorly in Game 1 (9-of-26) and was in foul trouble in Game 2. Kenyon Martin has been suspended for this game (conduct detrimental to the team) but Denver has played well without him, going 29-9 in the 38 games he's missed the last two seasons (19-6 TY).

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

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