Mark Cuban good with NBA admitting referee mistakes, wish it would happen more

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The Dallas Mavericks have benefitted from two late game bad calls by the referees this season — the one above where Monta Ellis clearly fouled Austin Rivers on the final shot, and one earlier in the season that wasn’t quite as egregious but still a foul, when Shawn Marion clipped Kevin Love on the arm.

We don’t know how those games would have turned out if the proper call had been made, but if the Mavs squeak into the playoffs by a game you can bet this will come up. A lot.

In both cases, the NBA came out the next day and said “oops” and admitted those were bad calls. A reporter asked outspoken NBA referee critic (as much as he is willing to pay in fines for it) and Mavs owner Mark Cuban about those calls, here is his response, via the Dallas Morning News.

“I love the transparency,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said before Monday’s home game against Orlando. “Now if I can just get them to do the same level of transparency for the other 47 minutes, 55 seconds, we’ll really be making progress.”

Does Cuban mean that the NBA should admit to all referee calls missed during every game? Is that realistic?

“Yeah it is,” Cuban said. “Because if you’re evaluating and you’re being held accountable and you’re proud of the work you do, why wouldn’t you?”

That’s about as likely to happen as Mark Cuban buying a collection of sleeved NBA jerseys.

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The NBA’s strategy of fines for any player or coach critical of a referee is an obvious effort to tamp down criticism that would help fuel the fan perception that the NBA referees are terrible. For the league to go Cuban’s route would be a 180 degree swing and would open up a conversation about how the referees missed five, 10, whatever calls a game. And that cost Team X a game or “Joey Crawford has it in for X” conversations. The referee union would flip out, as well.

The fact remains that considering the speed of the NBA game and the nature of a sport with a lot of gray area and borderline calls, NBA referees do a pretty good job. Could be better, but they do well. Far, far better than their critics are willing to admit.

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.