Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

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AP

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
 
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
 
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
 
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
 
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
 
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
 
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”

Soccer NIT is the most American idea of them all

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AP

Soccer NIT is the most American idea of them all

Either Peru or New Zealand will be the 32nd country to qualify for the 2018 World Cup (and depending on how late you read this today, one already will). This matters to you almost not at all because you are way too hot for the Soccer NIT.
 
Yes, there is a move afoot by some U.S, entrepreneurs to organize an ad hoc tournament of big-name countries that didn’t qualify for the World Cup (your Americans, you Italians, your Dutch, your Chileans, your Ivorians, et. al.), and it almost surely the most American idea of them all.
 
Greed-based, and stupid.
 
The teams that failed to qualify failed on the merits, as is always the case. The despair and tears and anger in the countries of the expelled were real, and will serve as the fuel for the next quadrennial chase for a berth in Qatar (or anywhere else on earth, if someone powerful comes to his or her senses).
 
But Americans have decided that if they can’t play with the big kids, they’ll set up their own game, as though there aren’t enough soccer competitions already, as though the idea of World Cup For Losers is something people have been craving, as though this wasn’t what it actually is.
 
Someone trying to force-feed us soccer we don’t care about because the soccer we do care about doesn’t include us. It’s the epitome of sore-loser-dom in search of a quick payday, a tantrum with ticket prices, and a trophy that reminds the winner that being name the 33rd-best team in the world is more insult than praise – just like the NIT’s search for the 69th best college basketball team in the country, the CBI’s search for the 85th best, and the CIT’s search for the 111th best.
 
Frankly, nobody should make a profit off the US Men’s National Team’s collapse. It should be a time for everyone to sit in the corner and reflect on all the advantages it barfed up in failing to qualify this time, not inflate some nonsense competition with other countries who should be bathing in equivalent bitterness.
 
After all, the United States of all places knows more about the value of an NIT than anywhere else, and that value is the answer to this question:
 
Without looking it up, name the last five NIT winners.
 
You can’t, and if you can, you should still be ashamed. I rest my case.