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Friday, May 19

   by Larry Ness - 05/19/2006

The Clippers/Suns series followed its previous form with the Clippers winning Game 6 last night, 118-106. The Suns have now won and covered Games 1,3 and 5 with the Clippers doing the same in Games 2, 4 and 6. It's been a perfect series for followers of the "Zig-Zag" theory, going 5-0 ATS. Zig-zaggers are 11-6 in the second round, meaning they are just 6-5 ATS in games outside of the Clippers/Suns series.

My free play for Friday is on the Col Rockies over the Tor Blue Jays at 9:05 ET. Tonight in the NBA, I'm offering one of my exclusive Ls Vegas Insiders on one of the two Game 6's. In MLB, it's one of my new Tecnical Insiders (featuring 75% and 73% winning trends) plus a 15* Interleague Rivalry Classic.

The Suns looked tired last night, as they were playing their 12th games in 22 days. The Suns' loss means they'll play a second straight Game 7 against an LA-based team. The Suns overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Lakers in the first round, winning Game 7 at home 121-90. This time around they'll take on the Clippers, again playing Game 7 at home. The early line shows the Suns favored by 4 1/2 points with a total of 215.

However, the team that's played every other day since April 26, gets a much-needed break before playing their Game 7 against the Clippers. For some reason, Game 7 of this series is not being played until Monday. Phoenix has two historical trends on its side. Home teams are 76-17 all-time in Game 7s plus teams having won Game 5 (at home) of a seven-game series tied at 2-all (like Phoenix did in this series), have gone on to win that series 118 of 128 times (92.2 percent)!

Last night's game went over the total, as have 15 of the 21 games played in this second round. Adding in a streak of 9-1 to the over in the last 10 games of the first round and that's 24 overs and just seven unders the last 31 playoff games (77.4 percent). The Clippers' win last night gives home teams a 14-7 SU mark but just 9-12 ATS in the second round.

Both home teams in tonight's games can advance to their respective conference finals with wins tonight. However, neither team will have an easy task. The Cavs, who host the Pistons at 7:00 ET, are 5 1/2-point underdogs (177 1/2), while the Mavs are favored by 1 1/2 points over the Spurs (193) in a game scheduled at 9:35 ET. Both games are being carried by ESPN.

The Pistons of course, won 64 games this year, after winning the NBA title in 2004 and losing to the Spurs in last year's Finals in a seven-game series. The Spurs won 63 games this year and have won NBA titles in two of the last three seasons. Detroit is the No. 1 seed in the East and San Antonio the No. 1 seed in the West.

The last No. 1 seed that failed to reach at least the conference finals was Miami in 1999, when it lost to New York in the opening round. It hasn't happened following an 82-game season since 1993-94, when top seeds Seattle and Atlanta were eliminated in the first and second rounds, respectively.

The Pistons won the first two games of their series with the Cavs but have seemingly "hit a wall." After averaging 106.6 PPG through their first seven postseason games, the Pistons lost Games 3 and 4 in Cleveland averaging 74.5 PPG while shooting just 36.3 percent. A return home for Game 5 didn't help much, as Detroit scored just 84 points (shot 42.7 percent, including 2-of-10 on three-pointers).

Detroit's three-game losing streak is its first of the year and it should be noted that the Pistons are 8-2 when facing elimination the previous three postseasons. A loss in this series would be a crushing blow to head coach Flip Saunders, who has been lauded for his fine work this year. Saunders is best-remembered for taking Minnesota to seven straight postseasons from 1997 through 2003 and losing in the first round each year!

The Mavs got bad news for their Game 6 with the Spurs when the league suspended Jason Terry for punching Michael Finley in the final seconds of Wednesday's game. The Mavs may now be forced to start Stackhouse (who's been a great scoring threat off the bench) plus will have to give increased minutes to either Daniels, Armstrong or Griffin, none of whom have contributed much of anything in this series.

As for the Spurs, they'll have to get more from their once-dominant role players. In the Game 5 win, Duncan, Ginobili and Parker combined for 81 of the team's 98 points. Only Barry, Horry and Van Exel got off Popovich's bench in Game 5, with only Barry scoring (five points).

MLB notes

The first of MLB's interleague games will be contested this weekend, with the Cubs (Maddux) at the White Sox (Buehrle) kicking things off (4:05 ET). Other rivalries of note are the Yankees and Mets playing at Shea, the Rangers and Astros playing at Minute Maid Park, the Giants and A's meeting in McAfee Coliseum (as Barry goes for No. 714) and the Angels and Dodgers playing at Dodger Stadium.

The Braves will be in Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks for a three-games series, in the only non-interleague matchup of the weekend. The Braves have finally caught 'fire', winning four straight and eight of 10 to get to 21-20. MLB's longest active winning streak is owned by the Tigers, who take a seven-game winning streak into their home series with the Reds. The A's, who have won four straight, join the Braves with MLB's second-longest winning streaks.

Not surprisingly, MLB's worst team (the KC Royals at 10-28), also own the longest active losing streak at six straight. Right behind the Royals are the Twins, who own a five-game losing streak plus MLB's worst team ERA at 6.48!

The Tigers stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of the baseball world, showing a profit of $1500 on the season (at $100/game). The Reds are a distant second, showing a profit of $782. While the Royals own the majors worst record, they are only third-worst when it comes to the moneyline (minus-$1157). Both the 11-28 Marlins (minus-$1328) and the 13-28 Pirates (minus-$1424) have been bigger "moneyburners" in the early going.

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

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