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Tuesday, June 13

   by Larry Ness - 06/13/2006

Game 3 of the NBA Finals goes tonight in Miami (9:00 ET on ABC) with the Mavericks owning a 2-0 lead in the series. Only two teams in the history of the NBA Finals have come back to win after falling behind 0-2, the 1969 Celtics and the 1977 Trailblazers. The Heat are favored by four points tonight with a total of 188.

The adjusted series price has Dallas at a little more than a five-to-one favorite. The Mavs were minus-$1.60 to win the series, prior to Game 1.

My free play for Tuesday is on the NY Yankees over the Cle Indians at 7:05 ET. In tonight's NBA, it's my 20* NBA Finals Game of the Year and in MLB, a Las Vegas Insider (12-5 run since May 1) plus a Technical Insider (backed by a 74% five-year trend).

It should be noted that in this current 2-3-2 format, nine teams have opened with two home wins and all nine have gone on to capture the title. Two teams have gone on to four-game sweeps, one has won in five games, five teams have won in six games and one team (the Spurs last year), needed seven games to win. However, teams down 0-2 in this format, have won Game 3 (their first at home in the series) six of the nine times.

While the Heat have been dominated in the first two games of this series, Miami fans (bettors) can draw inspiration from last year's Finals. The Pistons were totally outplayed in Games 1 and 2 last year in San Antonio (lost 84-69 and 97-76) but returned home in Game 3 to beat the Spurs, 96-79. Detroit also won Game 4 at home 102-71, before losing Game 5 in OT, 96-95. It will be hard for Miami to win this series if the Heat don't win all three games at home.

However, the Heat are also facing the fact that they've now lost six straight games to the Mavericks and 12 of the last 14 games played between the two teams. The Mavs are 5-1 in their last six games in Miami and while up 2-0 in the series, have hardly played their best.

MLB notes

Jose Contreras won his 15th consecutive decision last night in Chicago's 8-3 win over Texas, as he struck out a career-high 11 batters. He has now tied LaMarr Hoyt (('83-84) and Wilson Alvarez ('93-94) for the team record and now sets aim at Johan Santana, who won 17 straight for the Twins in '04-05. I bring this up because tonight's full 15-game schedule offers an number of intriguing pitching matchups.

Curt Schilling taking on Johan Santana is the best of them. The Red Sox visit the Twins in Minnesota tonight at 8:10 ET. Schilling has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 77-9 this year, while Santana's is 91-16. Schilling is 9-2 this year but his road ERA is 4.73, compared to 2.50 in Fenway. Santana's 6-4 (3.16) mark this year is deceiving. He opened 0-3 in his first four starts this year but is 6-1 (2.53) over his last nine starts, with the Twins going 8-1.

In Philadelphia, the Mets' Tom Glavine is 7-0 over his last eight starts (team is 8-0), while Phillies' starter Ryan Madson is 4-0 over his last six starts (Philly has gone 6-0). The difference however, is that Glavine has an ERA of 3.23 during his eight-game streak, while Madson's ERA is 5.29 over his last six games. Game time is 7:05 ET.

Milwaukee's Doug Davis has a 5.11 ERA on the year (3-4 record) but the Brewers are 9-5 in his 14 starts. He'll face Bronson Arroyo of the Reds tonight in Cincinnati (7:10 ET), who is 8-2 on the year (2.31) with the Reds going 10-3 in his starts. While Davis owns a 7.31 road ERA, Arroyo's home ERA is 2.06. Maybe that's why he's 4-0 at home (Cincy is 6-0) and the Reds are about a $2.00 favorite?

Jon Garland of the White Sox will try to get back on track tonight in Texas (8:05 ET), where he'll face the Rangers. Garland is looking to disprove the theory that he is a "one-year wonder." He better get going. Garland entered last year 46-51 (4.68) in his career but went 18-10 (3.50) with the White Sox going 22-12 in his starts (includes postseason).

However, he's 4-3 this year with an ERA of 6.20 in 12 starts, while allowing 97 hits in 77 innings (White Sox are 6-6 in his starts). In seven road starts, Garland has allowed 60 hits in 43.2 innings, posting an ERA of 7.83. The good news for the White Sox is that Texas starter Kameron Loe has an ERA of 9.42 in his last three outings.

The Mets take MLB's longest active winning streak (five) into their game tonight in Philly but another game to watch is Seattle at Oakland (10:05 ET), where both teams enter having won nine of their last 11 games. MLB's longest active losing streak belongs to the Diamondbacks (seven straight), a team that's been outscored 54-13 in their six losses since it was revealed that Jason Grimsley was under investigation on June 6.

Rookie Enrique Gonzalez starts tonight for Arizona (D'backs host the Giants at 9:40 ET) and will be making his fourth appearance (third start) of the season. In his two previous starts, he's gone six innings in each outing, allowing a single ER in both games (1.50 ERA). His mound opponent tonight is SF's Jamey Wright, who has an ERA of 7.88 over his last three starts but has a road ERA of 2.75 in five away starts this year.

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

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