Ray Ratto

Raiders, Jackson moving closer to the edge


Raiders, Jackson moving closer to the edge

Hue Jackson is solving one problem by getting Carson Palmer and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in back-to-back game weeks: He now has two players who have had the benefit of a full training camp, which is two more than most other teams.True, Palmers training camp with Houshmandzadeh consisted of throwing the ball for about a week, but its something.

But it also commits the Raiders to a new world where the offense is actually Palmers. He has won the job, he got his favorite slot receiver from bygone days, and by some accounts is going to start calling his own plays at the line in certain situations somewhere between Peyton Mannings role in Indianapolis and Andrew Lucks at Stanford.Were not saying this is either good or bad. Palmers played one half of unprepared football this year, Houshmandzadeh none at all, and the offense still is going to revolve around Darren McFadden for as long as he is healthy and available. The unknowns here are as plentiful as they are delicious.But it gives even newer meaning to Jacksons oft-parodied I live on the edge remark in that he has now handed the keys to a guy hes had in the building for three weeks, a rise as meteoric as his own. And while the statute of limitations of Al wouldnt have done it that way is rapidly running out in the fast-evolving world of professional collisions for hire, this does represent not only living on the edge, but doing tongue-stands on it.They may get away with it in the short term, too, as the Denver Tebows come to town for what can be the perfect distraction. Tebow is now his own sideshow, a deal not entirely of his making but still a very palpable and even bloated one. Carson Palmer is now at best a national sidebar while the debate about Tebows place in the universe is debated for yet another week.And we should add that, Tebow aside, the Broncos arent very good, the one team in the AFC West who doesnt have a share of its lead.Thus, Palmers new role is going to get lost here, at least for awhile and except by Raider diehards who care little for the travails of Tim Tebows resume. But the Raiders are now farther on the edge than they were even a week ago, and one wonders what comes next.Tim Brown, airport courtesy phone, please?

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


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?”