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Wednesday, May 10

   by Larry Ness - 05/10/2006

I apologize for missing yesterday's notes (computer problems). However, the NBA didn't take a day off, as the second round continued with the Pistons taking a 2-0 lead over the Cavs with a 97-91 win and the Mavs tying their series with the Spurs at 1-all with an impressive 113-91 win. The second round continues tonight on TNT with the Nets at the Heat (8:00 ET) and the Clippers at the Suns (10:35 ET).

My free play for Wednesday is on the Az Diamondbacks over the Pit Pirates at 7:05 ET. In tonight's NBA, I'm featuring one of my exclusive LEGEND Plays (3-0 in the playoffs) and in MLB, it's my 20* AL Game of the Month plus a 15* Pitching Mismatch.

Home teams have opened 4-2 SU but only 2-4 ATS in the second round after going 31-14 (22-21-2 ATS) in the first round. Four of the six games have gone 'over', continuing a recent trend that's seen 13 of the last 16 playoff games top the total. The "Zig-Zag" theory (playing 'on' the SU loser of the previous game) finished the first round with eight straight pointspread losers but "zig-zaggers" went a perfect 2-0 last night, to open the second round!

Tuesday recap

Detroit used a 19-3 run in the first half to open a 52-38 lead over Cleveland in last night's Game 2. The Cavs made a late run (to cover) but were never really in the game. LeBron, who had 22 points in the first half of Game 1, had just seven points at the half last night. He did finish with 30 points (plus 14 rebounds) but again got little help from his teammates. It remains to be seen whether the Cavs' 31-19 fourth quarter will give them any momentum come Game 3.

As for the Pistons, they needed little help from their bench in Game 2, getting only six points from their reserves after getting 43 points from their bench in their 27-point Game 1 win. All five Detroit starters scored in double figures (even Ben Wallace who had 10 points to go with a team-leading 15 rebounds) led by Rasheed Wallace, who had 29.

The Mavs must have felt that their Game 1 loss to the Spurs was an "opportunity lost" but they surely didn't show any negative side-effects in Game 2. Dallas used a 32-16 second quarter to take a 58-38 halftime lead and never looked back, winning 113-91. Howard led the way with 27 points (Mavs are now 20-0 this year when he gets 20 points or more!), Nowitzki had 21, Harris 20 and Stackhouse 19. Duncan led the Spurs with 28-9.

Wednesday's games

The Nets take on Miami tonight (Heat are favored by seven points with a total of 187 1/2) but probably will have to play without Jefferson. Jefferson has been "Mr. Consistent" for the Nets in these playoffs, topping 20 points in six of the team's seven playoff games. Jefferson scored 20 points in 22 minutes in Game 1 but left early in the third quarter with an ankle sprain and is listed as doubtful for Game 2.

New Jersey jumped on Miami early in Game 1 (led 38-21 after the 1st quarter and by 64-46 at the half) as Shaq picked up two early offensive fouls (less than five minutes into the game). Shaq has averaged less than 30 MPG and just 14.7-7.3 in Miami's three playoff loses this year, mostly because of foul trouble. Also contributing to Miami's woes were the team's 17 turnovers plus its 39.1 percent shooting, including 4-of-22 on threes.

Miami had averaged 106 PPG in its three previous playoff home games this year, shooting 48.7 percent. New Jersey's Game 1 win gave the team four straight playoff wins, holding its opponents to just 88 PPG. Kidd had his first good shooting game, scoring 22 points, after averaging just eight PPG (29.2 percent shooting) against Indiana. Miami is desperate but it should be noted that the Heat are just 11-24-1 ATS since the All Star break.

The Clippers are in Phoenix tonight where the Suns are favored by four points with a total of 215 1/2. The Clippers totally shut down the Nuggets in the first round, allowing Denver just 87.4 PPG. However, Game 1 was a shootout, with the Suns prevailing, 130-123. Since losing three straight to the Lakers while averaging 94.3 PPG, the Suns have won four straight games, averaging 122.8 PPG. Nash led five players who scored 17 points or more with 31.

Marion, who was outplayed by Lamar Odom in the first part of the Laker series, has now posted double-doubles in four of his last five games (none in the first three), Diaw has scored at least 19 points in five straight games (while averaging 6.2 RPG and 7.4 APG) and Barbosa has caught fire, averaging 21.7 PPG over his last three. Brand set a team playoff-record in Game 1 for the Clippers, scoring 40 points on 18-of-22 shooting!

MLB notes

All 30 teams were in action Tuesday night and 12 went out and got a dozen hits or more! Minnesota led the way with 19 hits in its 15-5 win over Texas, one of three games (Texas had 15 hits) which saw both teams get 14 hits or more. The Royals had 17 hits in their 10-7 win over the Indians (who had 14 hits) and the Dodgers and Astros both had 14 hits in LA's 12-7 over Houston. Eleven of Tuesday's 15 games went 'over' the total, including all seven in the AL.

San Diego's nine-game winning streak was snapped when the Padres lost 5-4 (10 innings) to the Brewers but Philadelphia made it nine consecutive wins with a 5-4 win over the Mets. The Phils have outscored opponents 57-31 in their winning streak.

The Cubs' losing streak reached eight straight last night with a 6-1 loss in San Francisco. The Cubs have been outscored in the losing streak 42-9 and since a 6-2 win on April 28 against the Brewers, have scored just 13 runs in losing 10 of 11 games.

Tonight's 15-game schedule is highlighted by the Red Sox/Yankees game in New York. The Red Sox pounded out 16 hits in beating Randy Johnson and the Yankees 14-3 last night and Boston is now 2-0 versus its rival this year. Tonight's game, carried by ESPN at 7:05 ET, features a pitching matchup of Curt Schilling (5-1 3.02) versus Mike Mussina (5-1 2.35). The Yankees are favored by minus-$1.25 with a total of nine.

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

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