Paul Pierce out Saturday against Grizzlies due to hand injury

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UPDATE 7:14 p.m.: Paul Pierce is now officially out Saturday against the Grizzlies.

3:30 p. m.: Injuries have been the story do far this season for the Brooklyn Nets, a team many expected to be legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference.

The latest one is to Paul Pierce, who isn’t expected to play when the Nets face the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday.

From Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York:

Brooklyn Nets small forward Paul Pierce has been listed as doubtful for Saturday night’s game in Memphis due to a bruised right hand, the team announced.

Pierce is shooting just 31.1 percent in his past 11 games, including 23.8 percent from 3-point range.

Alan Anderson will likely get the start if Pierce can’t play.

Deron Williams, Jason Terry, and Andrei Kirilenko remain sidelined due to various ailments. Kevin Garnett, who sat out Friday night’s loss in Houston just to rest, is expected to return to the lineup.

Pierce played less than 15 minutes in Brooklyn’s latest loss, an embarrassing one given the lack of effort shown from the opening tip. Jason Kidd benched four of his five starters to start the second half save for Brook Lopez, who returned after missing the last seven of his team’s games due to injury.

The constant lineup shuffling that’s plaguing the Nets in the early part of the season is the same thing the Lakers went through last year after their so-called super-team was similarly assembled. It’s impossible to get a new system in place with new key players and a new head coach if the players available are constantly changing on a game-to-game basis.

Brooklyn hoped that its projected starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez would be tough for most teams to deal with. Now, the team simply would settle for the opportunity to see if that might be the case.

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.