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Monday, May 15
by Larry Ness - 05/15/2006
TNT will carry both NBA games tonight (Detroit/Cleveland at 7:05 ET and San Antonio/Dallas at 9:35 ET), as all series will have completed four games after tonight's play. Currently, the Heat lead the Nets 3-1 after a 102-92 win Sunday afternoon, while the Clippers and Suns are tied at 2-all, after LA's 114-107 win last night.
My free play for Monday is on the Hou Astros over the SF Giants at 8:05 ET. I'm passing tonight in MLB but have a 22* in the NBA playoffs as I look to extend my current four-game postseason winning streak (won with the Clippers last night). Regular clients know that my 22*s are my highest star-rated plays and that my high-end (20 and 22*s plus LEGENDs) playoff relesases are 9-3 75% ATS in this year's postseason!
The Pistons lead their series with the Cavs 2-1 and are favored by six points in tonight's Game 4 with a total of 183 1/2. The Mavs are also up 2-1 in their series with the Spurs and are favored tonight by 2 1/2 points with a total of 190 1/2.
Home teams got off to a great start in this year's postseason, winning 30 of the first 39 games played. However, they finished the first round on a 1-5 SU and ATS run and their struggles have continued into the second round. Home teams are 8-6 SU and just 5-9 ATS after 14 games in this round. That means home teams have gone 9-11 (6-14 ATS) over the last 20 playoff games.
The 'overs' have dominated so far in this second round, with 10 of the 14 games topping the posted total. That continues a trend that saw nine of the final 10 games in the first round go over the total, meaning 19 of the last 25 playoff games have gone over. And defense is supposed to win championships?
The famous or infamous "Zig-Zag" theory has been very streaky during the postseason. It opened by going an impressive 19-8-2 ATS to start the first round but ended the round on an eight-game losing streak. However, "zig-zaggers" have won eight of the first 10 games of the second round, bringing the overall record to 27-18-2 or plus-7.2 units.
What's up with the Pistons? Losing Game 3 was no great shock, as Detroit has now lost 10 of its last 11 Game 3s on the road. However, what is surprising is the team's offensive power outage. The Pistons scored 113 points in Game 1, fell to 97 in Game 2 and all the way to 77 points in Game 3. The Cavs were able to win Game 3 with one good quarter.
Cleveland entered the fourth quarter having shot just 17-of-56 (30.4 percent) while scoring 53 points. However, they outscored the Pistons 33-21 in the 4th, making 11-of-15 FGs and 9-of-9 FTs. James had 15 points in the quarter, finishing with his second-ever playoff triple-double (21-10-10). Detroit should bounce back but Piston backers will have to pay dearly, as Detroit is currently a six-point choice.
For Cleveland to tie the series, one would think James would need more help. Hughes is likely to miss again (maybe not bad news as he's shot just 31.8 percent in the postseason) and neither Ilgauskas nor Gooden has played well. Ilgauskas is averaging just 8.8-5.8 over his last five games while Gooden has scored in double digits just once in seven games (averaging 7.3 PPG) since getting 24-16 in Game 2 of the Washington series.
Is this really the Mavs' year? Dallas has taken a 2-1 lead in its series with San Antonio and history tells us that in 23 previous playoff series with Duncan, the Spurs have trailed after three games just four times, eventually losing the series each time! Duncan has been brilliant, averaging 31.3 PPG and 11.3 RPG (he averaged just 18.3 PPG vs Sacramento) but like James, he'll need help.
Maybe the most surprising thing has been San Antonio's inability to stop Dallas from scoring. The Spurs were second to the Grizzlies in PPG allowed this year (88.8-to-88.5) but have allowed Dallas to average 108.5 PPG while getting to the free throw line 93 times in Games 2 and 3. Nowitzki set a franchise playoff record for FT attempts (24) and makes (21) in Game 3. However, he did sprain his ankle late in Game 3 and may not be 100 percent tonight.
Heading into a new week (interleague play is coming this weekend!), the Padres own the longest active winning streak in the majors at five straight, with the Tigers and Phillies each owning four consecutive wins. The Padres trailed the Dodgers 5-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth back on April 30 but rallied to win that game and have won 14 of 16 since. The Phillies began their turnaround on the same day as well, having won 13 of 14.
The Indians own the longest active losing streak at six straight losses and are now just 17-21 after opening the season 6-1. The Cubs are next with four straight losses but that's not the half of it! The Cubbies have lost 12 of their last 13 games, getting outscored 75-28 in the process.
I talked last week about all the high scoring games and it should be noted that just six of MLB's 30 teams have played more 'unders' than 'overs' through Sunday's games. Four of those six teams have played just one more under than over, with only the Rockies (15-21-2) and the Tigers (11-23-3) as real 'under' teams to-date. The list of 'over' teams includes Florida (24-9-2), Toronto (23-11-2), Minnesota (23-12-2), Baltimore (23-13-2) and Cleveland (23-13-2).
The Royals may own MLB's worst record at 10-25 but five other teams have been bigger "moneyburners" through Sunday's action. The Royals are minus-$857 (at 100 per game) but the five-worst teams in MLB are the 17-21 Indians (minus-$888), the 11-24 Marlins (minus-$928), the 13-25 Nationals (minus-$1085) and the 11-27 Pirates (minus-$1605). The money leaders are the 24-13 Tigers (plus-$1170) and the 23-15 Reds (plus-$979).
Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.