Wade sits out, doesn’t matter as Heat extend streak to 26, rout Bobcats

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The team with the best record in the NBA was taking on the team with the worst record in the NBA, how did you think this was going to end?

Even with Dwyane Wade out resting a sore knee, the Heat stuck to their script — fell behind by double digits early (19-8), cranked up the defensive pressure, watched LeBron James take over and pull away in the second half for the easy win, this time 109-77 over Charlotte.

That would be 26 straight wins for the Heat, the second longest streak in NBA history Next up is a scrappy but undermanned Orlando team on Monday. Later in the week come some interesting tests — at Chicago on Wednesday and at San Antonio Sunday.

As for this Sunday, it was more of the same for Miami. Starting with LeBron being LeBron — 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting with 10 assists. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, and Charlotte had no answer.

Wade’s injury was the biggest news of the day, but it’s more the kind of nagging thing the Heat want to get rest for now, before the playoffs start. Erik Spoelstra chose the game against the league’s worst team and before a tough four-game road trip to get that rest. Smart call.

Ask a few people around the league what will eventually do in the Heat’s streak it is that choice — Spoelstra resting guys and thinking playoffs not the streak. But that doesn’t really matter against Charlotte. Even when Mike Miller starts in Wade’s place and needs seven shots to get six points.

With LeBron and Chris Bosh — 15 points, six rebounds in a solid if not explosive effort — plus some big minutes from Chris Andersen off the bench, the Heat owned the frontcourt and that was the key here. Miami’s starting frontcourt outscored Charlotte’s 48-20.

Kemba Walker kept attacking for Charlotte on his way to 20 points, Gerald Henderson added 18. The problem was those two needed 39 shots to get those 38 points. As a team the Bobcats shot 33.7 percent overall and just 20 percent (5-of-25) from three.

It was the kind of game for the Heat where even Norris Cole looked pretty good — he was slashing into the defense and had 15 points and 6 assists, as he seemed to make the right decision every play.

Miami keeps rolling. Charlotte’s fans might have been better served watching the NCAA tournament, scouting high draft picks (in a down draft, this isn’t the best year to suck).

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.