Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Bulls are beating everybody

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What you missed while getting emails from your dead friend….

Bulls 85, Magic 59: Chicago is now 10-4 this season when Derrick Rose sits and now have beaten the Heat and Magic without him in the last week. Credit where credit is due — they have been playing the best basketball in the NBA for some time now. They play hard and smart and when Rose is in the lineup (with Richard Hamilton) they are serious title contenders.

Chicago single-covered Dwight Howard (18 points on 8-of-12 shooting) and stop everyone else. As usually happens against the Magic, it worked. Orlando players not named Howard shot 16-of-56, or 28.6 percent. Jason Richardson was 1-of-7, Ryan Anderson 4-of-13. It was ugly.

Meanwhile on the other end Carlos Boozer stepped up 24 points and John Lucas III had 20. And then there was this from Joakim Noah.

Celtics 79, Hawks 76: What a wild fourth quarter — Boston went on a 17-2 run to open a 15-point lead, but Atlanta went on a late 16-2 run to make it a nail biter at the end. That made it entertaining — it was not pretty. Boston won shooting 39.2 percent, Atlanta shot 38.7 percent. Ray Allen had 19 points on n nine shots, and Kevin Garnett had another impressive game, but mostly this game was about shots clanging of the rim. Joe Johnson did have 25 for the Hawks.

Sixers 105, Bobcats 80: Nothing can get a sick offense feeling better like playing Charlotte. You knew the Bobcats were in trouble when they shot a ridiculous 57 percent over the first 18 minutes and were still down by 2. Philadelphia owned the second half and both Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young had 20 for the Sixers. We’ll see if all this carries over to a real game.

Cavaliers 105, Nets 100: He may be a rookie but Kyrie Irving is a closer. He had 14 fourth quarter points and helped spark a late 10-2 run that gave the Cavaliers a hard-fought win. Deron Williams couldn’t stop Irving, so the Nets tried newcomer Gerald Wallace but that didn’t help either. Tristan Thompson had an impressive 27 for the Cavaliers as well.

Timberwolves 97, Warriors 93: It wasn’t all booing the owner, they played a game, too. Minnesota appeared in control until a Klay Thompson and David Lee inspired 22-7 third-quarter run made this a game. Kevin Love had 12 of his 36 in the fourth quarter — and Anthony Tolliver pitched in 10 in the final frame — as the Timberwolves made a late run to secure the win.

Odd fact of the week: Minnesota is the opponent it two jersey retirements this week, Chris Mullin’s Monday at Golden State and Bruce Bowen’s Wednesday in San Antonio.

Mavericks 112, Nuggets 95: Kenneth Faried has been making a splash lately, but asking him to try and hang with Dirk Nowitzki defensively proved to be a mistake. Nowitzki had 33 and was key to Dallas controlling this game most of the way. Denver went without JaVale McGee in this one, but if Nuggets fans think he makes a difference they haven’t seen him play. Wilson Chandler did look good getting his 13 points. Arron Afflalo led Denver with 24.

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.