Ray Ratto

Check 'exhaustion' off the list: The Warriors aren't tired any more

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AP

Check 'exhaustion' off the list: The Warriors aren't tired any more

The day we narrative sluts have been dreading has finally arrived.

The Golden State Warriors aren’t tired any more.

There had been signs on the horizon that they were finding their old vim, vigor, vitality and pep before Monday, but they dealt the final blow to the “The short, busy and China-enriched offseason really took it out of them” plot line was delivered Monday when they held the Miami Heat to the new NBA minimum in points in a 97-80 victory.

Their defensive rating has risen in the past week from 28th to 18th. Their opponents’ effective field goal percentage has risen from 26th to 10th. The 80 points they allowed was the fourth lowest by any team so far this year, and on their poorest shooting night of the year, they saw to it that the Heat shot poorer still. Their last three games have seen them allow 92, 108 and 80 points (an average of 93.3 per game), and they have the second-best record in basketball.

Yeah, check “exhaustion” off the list.

Now most fans will find that development a relief because they have gotten well used to the Warriors as the Atlas holding up the rest of the NBA. Their third losses in the prior three seasons came in Games 24, 39 and 19, so losing No. 3 in Game 76 this year was a discussable point. Some people even speculated that they were struggling at home because they were 2-2 through four games and lost to Houston and Detroit.

Now that’s all gone, and the regular season is about to become the cavalcade of sameness that the previous three regular seasons have been. The only thing a Warrior fan pre-conditioned to worry has left is injury, and nobody is ghoulish enough to root for players to get hurt . . . although we haven’t polled all 29 other general managers on this.

The point is, they have another 10 to 15 allowable defeats this year, and as long as they don’t clump them in a couple of massive clots, we have nothing left to fret unnecessarily about them. Either that, or we’ll have to invent something new -- like why they can’t cover the spread more often.

After all, they’re 5-6 against the line, 20th overall. But then, they’re also 7-4 against the total, best in all of the National Vegas League.

That means their offense is doing just fine, which we already knew, and if we already knew it, that isn’t much of a narrative at all.

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?”