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Thursday, June 15

   by Larry Ness - 06/15/2006

After losing Games 1 and 2 in Dallas by a combined 24 points, the Heat used a 22-7 run in the final 6:34 of Game 3 to get back in the Finals on Tuesday night. Game 4 tips tonight on ABC at 9:00 ET.

There are concerns regarding Dwayne Wade's left knee but there's little doubt he'll play. The line for Game 4 opened as high as Miami 3 1/2 in this game but Miami is currently favored by 1 1/2-points with a total of 189.

I'm passing on a free play Thursday, as well as on tonight's Game 4 of the Finals. However, I do have a 15* Afternoon Delight in MLB plus another exclusive Las Vegas Insider, now 14-5 since May 1!

Home teams are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in the Finals plus are on a current 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS run since opening the conference finals 0-4 ATS. Game 3 went over the total, just the third playoff game to go over the total in the last 15.

The pressure is all on the Heat tonight, as with the 2-3-2 format, anything less than a three-game sweep of Miami's home games, sends them back to Dallas with the task of winning both Game 6 and 7. History tells us that in this format, only the 2004 Detroit Pistons have been able to win the middle three games at home.

Wade tied a career playoff-high in Game 2 with 42 points and Shaq had his best game of the series (16-11). That seems like a strange statement but Shaq is clearly not the same player who entered this series, his sixth trip to the NBA finals, with a 32.6 PPG scoring average in 24 previous Finals games.

Two streaks came to an end for the Mavs in their Game 3 loss. They had been 25-0 this year when Josh Howard had at least 20 points but despite Howard's 21 points (although he didn't score in the game's final 14:42!), Dallas lost. Also, the Mavs had been 11-0 this year when Erick Dampier reached double figures. That streak ended as well, even though Dampier was excellent in Game 3, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

MLB notes

It's "Getaway Day" on Thursday in MLB, as nine of the 14 games scheduled are being played in the afternoon. The Cards and Pirates start early (12:35 ET) and the Dodgers/Padres and Mariners/A's conclude the afternoon schedule at 3:35 ET. Two of the five evening games are on TV, the Braves/Marlins on WTBS at 7:05 ET and the Red Sox/Twins on ESPN2 at 8:10 ET.

The Mets won again last night (9-3 over the Phils) and their seven-game winning streak remains the longest active one in MLB. The win also moved the Mets to 41-23 (.641) just ahead of the Tigers (42-24 .636) for MLB's best mark. However, the Tigers are still ahead of the Mets in the "moneyline" category, as bettors are plus-$1,638 with Detroit (at $100/game), as compared to plus-$1,336 with the Mets.

The A's are right behind the Mets with a six-game winning streak, one which has them in second place in the AL West, a half-game back of the Rangers. The D'backs winning streak lasted all of one game, as they lost last night, 11-4. However, they do remain tied for first with the Dodgers in the NL West, the lone division in MLB without a losing team. The Padres are 34-31, while the Rockies and Giants are both 33-32.

The Braves are on TV tonight and if you'd rather remember the team that's won 14 consecutive division titles, you may not want to tune in. Atlanta concludes a seven-game road trip tonight in Florida, having gone just 1-5. The team has lost 13 of its last 16 overall and Atlanta trails the Mets by 12 games. Atlanta's recent slump also has them chasing the Royals, as MLB's biggest "moneyburners." Atlanta is minus-$1,233 on the year, better than only the 17-47 Royals (minus-$1,481).

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

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