Dirk Nowitzki has knee surgery Friday, out six weeks

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Rather than wait and hope it heals like it did last season, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks are being proactive.

Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic surgery to his right knee Friday morning and will be out for about six weeks, the team announced Friday. That timeframe has him returning around the start of December. That would have him missing around 16 games.

This is the smart move — better to deal with it now than let everything linger. Nowitzki has been dealing with swelling in his right knee all preseason and had it drained twice. Last season a similar thing happened but Nowtizki took time off, changed his training routine and was able to solve the problem, this time it’s not working.

This is going to hurt the Mavs in the short term, make no mistake. As our own Darius Soriano pointed out, the Mavericks he were 8.8 points per 100 possessions better when Nowitzki was on the floor last season as opposed when he was on the bench. That was not just scoring — Dallas’s defense was 2.8 points per 100 better when Nowitzki was on the floor Stats courtesy the NBA.com stats tool.

No Nowitzki means more of the offensive load in Dallas is going to fall to O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison, who will have to create shots for everyone. Dallas is going to need a lot more out of Brandan Wright.

The challenge for Dallas is not falling so far behind in the playoff chase in a deep Western Conference that they can’t climb back in. Dallas and Minnesota — without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to start the season — will be playing catch up likely for one of the last couple of playoff spots in the West. The teams who have to take advantage are the Jazz and the Golden State Warriors (who need to get Andrew Bogut back, he may miss the start of the season).

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.