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Wednesday, May 17

   by Larry Ness - 05/17/2006

The NBA treated us to two thrilling finishes last night, as the Heat edged the Nets 106-105 and in double-overtime, the Suns outlasted the Clippers 125-118. The Heat win eliminates the Nets (4-1) and the win by the Suns gives them a 3-2 lead in their series with the Clippers (resumes Thursday night in LA).

My free play for Wednesday is on the Min Twins over the Det Tigers at 7:05 ET. I got a gift from the "gambling gods" last night with the Suns, extending my playoff run to 5-1 83% since last Weds. Im 'firing' on Wednesday with an exclusive LEGEND Play (4-0 in this year's postseason) plus another 15* Game 5 Showdown. My MLB for Weds will be available by 1:00 ET.

Both home teams won giving home teams a five-game winning streak since Sunday night's Suns/Clippers game. They are now 12-6 SU in the second round, going 8-10 ATS. Both games went 'over', as the high scoring continued in this year's postseason. The first round saw nine of its final 10 games go over the total and the second has seen 13 of the 18 games go over. Over bettors are now plus-15.4 games, cashing 78.6 percent of their 'tickets' over the last 28 playoff contests.

'Players' following the "Zig-Zag" theory have had a successful run to-date in the second round, as playing 'on' the SU loser of the previous game has them up 5.6 games with a 10-4 record (71.4 percent). However, this can change quickly, as we saw in the first round. The "Zig Zag" theory opened the first round at 19-8-2 ATS but finished the round on an 0-8 ATS run, barely showing a profit (plus 1.4 games) for the effort.

In last night's NJ/Mia game, the Nets' trio of Carter, Jefferson and Kidd combined for 86 points (Carter and Jefferson both had 33) but it wasn't enough to lead the Nets past the Heat, who had six players score in double figures (Walker led the way with 23). Miami, after losing Game 1 100-88, won four straight games. Teams that have fallen behind 3-1 in a seven-game series are now just 8-156 all-time. Are the Mavs and Spurs listening?

In Phoenix, the Suns blew a 19-point third quarter lead and Cassell sent the game into OT with a three-pointer for the Clippers. It was then the Suns' Bell who nailed a three-pointer at the end of the first OT period, before the Suns outscored the Clippers by seven points in the second OT (for the cover!). Three Clippers played 50 minutes or more (Brand, Cassell and Mobley), while two Suns did (Bell and Marion).

Teams that win Game 5 of a seven-game series when tied at 2-all, have gone on to win 165 of 183 times in NBA playoff history. That's an .855 winning percentage. Breaking those numbers down further reveals that teams that have won Game 5 at home are 118-10 (.922) while teams that won Game 5 on the road have gone 47-18 (.723). Are the Cavs and Pistons listening?

Wednesday's games

The Cavs and Pistons start things off tonight in Detroit at 7:05 ET on TNT. The Mavs and Spurs will follow from San Antonio at 9:35 ET. The Pistons are favored by 11 points with a total of 179, while the Spurs are favored by five points with a total of 191 1/2.

The Pistons couldn't score in the two losses at Cleveland, getting just 77 and 72 points while shooting 39.4 percent and 33.3 percent. Detroit was completely stifled in the second halves of both games, scoring 35 points and 34 points, while being outscored in the fourth quarter of Game 3 (33-21) and Game 4 (21-13). Will a return home make a difference? The Pistons have averaged 106.6 PPG in five playoff home games, shooting 48 percent.

As for the Cavs, James has played all 48 minutes in each of the last three games of this series and neither Ilgauskas (7.0-6.5) nor Gooden (7.0-5.5) were much help in the two Cleveland wins. Hughes is likely to miss his third straight game (maybe no big deal as he was shooting just 31 percent in the playoffs). Can Cleveland players like Marshall, Murray, Snow and Varejao play as well in Detroit as they did in Cleveland?

The Mavs have won three straight games over the Spurs (averaged 113.3 PPG) after losing Game 1, 87-85. Devin Harris has been a major reason, averaging 20.7 PPG while shooting 58.3 percent in the three games (was inserted as a starter for Game 2). Nowitzki scored just 10 baskets in the two wins in Dallas but made 35-of-39 FTs, leading the way for the Mavs who have shot 125 FTs in the three wins, making 102 (.816).

The Spurs have been one of the league's best defensive teams for years (ranked second in PPG allowed this year with an average of 88.8) but they haven't been able to stop the Mavs from being aggressive (leading to the high number of FT attempts) nor have they been able to force turnovers (Dallas has just 32 in the three wins). As mentioned yesterday, San Antonio is 0-5 all-time when trailing this late in a series (since 1997).

MLB notes

The Cleveland Indians ended the longest active losing streak in MLB last night (had lost six straight), when Travis Hafner's two-run HR capped a three-run ninth, giving the Indians a 6-4 win over the Royals. However, I'll have to check the official record book, as I'm not sure beating the Royals, who own MLB's worst record at 10-26 (including a pathetic 2-18 mark on the road), really counts!

San Francisco beat the Astros in Houston last night 14-3, following up a 10-1 win in Houston on Monday. Despite his team scoring 24 runs in two days, Barry Bonds extended his homerless streak to 26 at-bats. Also worthy of note in this game is the fact that Jamey Wright got the win. Why the big deal? Wright entered the game 0-12 with an ERA of 7.35 in 17 previous appearances against the Astros. Last night he was staked to a 5-0 lead before taking the mound and pitched seven innings, allowing six hits and three runs.

The Rangers jumped on the Yankees early last night, taking leads of 9-0 (2nd) and 10-1 (3rd). However, the Yanks won 14-13, matching the club's biggest comeback ever. It marked the fourth time in team history that the Yankees had won after trailing by nine runs. The last time they did it was against the Red Sox (6/26/87), when Roger Clemens was Boston's starting pitcher in that game! The two teams combined for 33 hits and 27 runs last night.

The Tigers own the longest active winning streak at five games (Tigers are also the league's best "moneymaker" at plus-$1270) and host the Twins tonight. The pitching matchup is worthy of note, as Johan Santana faces Detroit phenom, Justin Verlander. The Reds, who have lost four straight (longest active losing streak) are in Pittsburgh, which owns the NL's worst record at 12-27, as well as being MLB's worst "moneyburners" (minus-$1468).

All 30 teams are again in action tonight (15 games), with the season's first interleague games just two days away.

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

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