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Monday, June 19

   by Larry Ness - 06/19/2006

As Chris Berman might say, "This just in, Dwayne Wade is pretty good!" Dwayne Wade scored a career playoff-high 43 points last night as the Heat edged the Mavericks in OT, 101-100. The Heat, who lost the first two games of the NBA Finals by 10 and 14 points respectively, have now won three straight at home to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

My free play for Monday is on the SF Gaints over the LA Angels at 10:15 ET. Coming off a 3-0 Sunday sweep, I'm offering just a single play on Monday. Don't miss my latest Technical Insider in MLB (3-1 last week), backed by two 79% team trends plus a go-against team trend of 74%.

By winning the middle three games at home, the Heat became just the second team to accomplish that feat since the NBA went to its current 2-3-2 format in the 1985 postseason (2004 Pistons were the other team). Wade's 43-point effort upped his average in the Finals to 34.4 PPG, including 40.3 PPG in the three games in Miami. His 21 FTs made in Game 5 (25 attempts), set a new record for FTs made in a Finals game.

Shaq was solid again with 18 points and 12 rebounds but he did miss 10 of 12 FTs. He scored a total of just 22 points with 13 rebounds in Games 1 and 2, while making just 2-of-16 FTs. However, he bounced back to make 9-of-16 FTs in Games 3 and 4 before last night's relapse. Either way, it's hard to argue with his three-game averages of 17.0 PPG (on 20-of-29 shooting for 69 percent) and 12.0 RPG this past week.

The Mavs are reeling after three consecutive losses, two of which they could have easily won. Dallas led Game 3 by 13 points with just 6:34 remaining but got outscored down the stretch, 22-7. In Game 5, Dallas had numerous chances to win (even with Stackhouse suspended) but couldn't get it done. Nowitzki had just 20 points for the Mavs but the Mavs got great games from Terry (35) and Howard (25).

The win by Miami makes home teams a perfect 5-0 SU in the Finals, although the non-cover gives home teams a 3-2 ATS mark. Home teams are now on an 11-2 SU and 9-4 ATS run since opening the conference finals 0-4 ATS. The game was tied 93-all in regulation (under the closing total of 187 1/2) but eventually went over, just the fourth over in the last 17 postseason games. Followers of the "Zig-Zag" theory got their first win of the series (1-3), as Dallas lost but covered.

Game 6 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Dallas, where the early line has the Mavericks favored by six points with a total of 188. The Mavs opened this series as the favorite (about minus-$1.60) and after taking a 2-0 lead, were as high as 5/1. The latest adjusted series price was not available at press time.

MLB notes

Interleague play continues this week (runs through July 2) and after this past weekend's games, the AL leads its NL counterparts, 49-35. The Mariners lead all teams with a perfect 6-0 mark, while four other AL teams are 5-1 (Red Sox, Tigers, Twins and White Sox). Two NL teams are 3-0 (Cards and Rockies) and the Nationals are 4-2. The biggest losers so far are the Blue Jays (0-6) and Angels (1-5) in the AL and the Cubs, Pirates and Reds, who are all 1-5 in the NL.

The A's open the new week with MLB's longest active winning streak (10 straight) and have gone 14-2 in June, after stumbling through May at 12-17. The rejuvenated Marlins have won eight straight games, going 18-6 since sitting at 11-31 on May 21. The Marlins have won 13 of their 19 home games, after opening the year at 3-12 in Dolphin Stadium. The Twins have won seven straight (outscored opponents by 39-13) to even their record at 34-34.

At the other end of the 'food chain' we find the Braves, Cubs and D'backs. Atlanta has lost seven straight (longest losing streak in almost 16 years!) and 17 of 20 overall, to fall 14 games behind the Mets in the NL East. The Cubs have lost six straight games, dropping the team's mark to 17-37 since losing Derrek Lee back on April 19. As for the D'backs, they've lost five straight and 12 of 13.

The Tigers (have won four straight) caught the Mets over the weekend, to reclaim MLB's best record at 46-24. The White Sox (also winners of four straight) own MLB's second-best mark at 44-25, with the Mets owning the NL's best mark at 43-25. The Tigers lead the way at plus-$2,038 ($100/game), the White Sox are second at plus-$1,143 and the Mets third at plus-$1,072.

MLB's worst record is still owned by the Royals at 19-49 but three other teams are bigger "moneyline losers." The Braves, who at 30-40 have 11 more wins than the Royals, are minus-$1,683 on the year. The Cubs (minus-$1,642) and the Pirates (minus-$1,1642), both who have won seven more games than the Royals, also trail KC (minus-$1,247) in the moneyline department.

Check out these numbers. The Braves are 30-40 on the season, while the Marlins are 29-37. However, while the Braves have cost their backers $1,683 so far, the Marlins are actually showing a profit on the year, at plus-$71!

Game 7

While we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out if the NBA Finals will be decided in a seventh game for the second straight year, the Stanley Cup playoffs will be decided tonight in a Game 7 at Raleigh. The Oilers have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force a Game 7 and could become just the second team in NHL history to rally from a 3-1 series deficit in the finals to win the Cup. The Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from an 0-3 deficit in 1945 to beat the Detroit Red Wings!

This is the 14th series to reach a seventh game in Stanley Cup Finals' history and 11 of the previous 13 seventh-games have been won by the home team. Those 1945 Maple Leafs beat the Red Wings in Detroit and the 1971 Canadiens beat the Black Hawks in Chicago. In tonight's Game 7 (8:00 ET on NBC), the Panthers are a minus-$1.70 favorite with a total of 5 1/2.

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

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