Cavaliers goosing the Association

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It’s all about the goose eye.

You already see the goose eye all over the basketball landscape — college games, NBA benches, even that geek in your rec league — and you can thank the Cavaliers for that. Everybody is doing it.

Wait, I see that confused look on your face. Let’s let the people from the Cleveland News-Herald explain (via TrueHoop).

The origin of the gooseneck is traced back years ago, when players stopped shooting two-handed set shots. In a normal shooting stroke, a player’s hand extends forward after releasing the ball.

Careful examination of a player’s hand after the shot resembles what the Cavs’ resident comedians thought looked like a goose’s neck.

“I guess when you shoot, it actually looks like a gooseneck,” Cavs forward Jamario Moon said. “Way back in the day, they say when you’re shooting, you leave that gooseneck up.”

Cleveland took it a step farther — their players close the thumb and forefinger to form sort of an eye on the side of the goose. And there you have it — another of Cleveland’s team signs of unity. That and overly complicated pregame handshakes.

Now every time a threeball goes up, the bench gives it the goose eye — that’s 19 times a game on average (more like 22 a game in the last 10). Which is a lot, but clearly the goose eye works, because Cleveland is shooting an impressive 39% as a team from beyond the arc.

Sure, somebody is going to tell you that what the bench does has no bearing on the shot falling, that it’s about the shooter. We know that’s crap — rally caps (or even monkeys) work in baseball. Goose eyes work in basketball. It is indisputable fact. What other reason do you have for the Cavaliers having the best record in basketball? Because they have the best player? Whatever. We know the real reason.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.