Ray Ratto

Ratto: Dirty hit mars Sharks' Game 1 victory


Ratto: Dirty hit mars Sharks' Game 1 victory

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

On a night with too many close calls and one noteworthy non-call, Kyle Wellwood made the best call, and the easiest one, to give the Sharks a 3-2 overtime win over Los Angeles Thursday night in Game 1 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.Wellwood broke out with Ryane Clowe on an odd-man break deep into the overtime period, got the perfect pass from Clowe and turned it into the perfect pass to Joe Pavelski for the game-winner 14:44 into extra time, and springing the Sharks to a quick but painful advantage in this series.The painful part had come much earlier, when Kings center Jarret Stoll drove defenseman Ian Whites head into the glass behind the San Jose net 26 seconds from the end of the first period. White wobbled to the bench and was helped to the dressing room, where he remained through the rest of the evening while the Sharks soldiered on a defenseman down.
NEWS: Sharks edge Kings on Pavelski's O.T. winner
But it took a play from Clowe, taking the puck from Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, to give the Sharks the escape they needed before Whites absence wore the rest of the team to a nub.Basically, Martinez tried to jump through and make a play, and I think he might have fallen down, but Clowie got the puck off his stick, Wellwood said as he described Pavelskis game-winner as well as Clowes third assist. He saw that the guys who were back were (Wayne) Simmonds and the other defenseman (Matt Greene), and he just went at them and I followed, and I figured when he got me the puck that I had time to make a play.
VIDEO: Game highlights
And Pavelski, who trailed the play as trained to do, took a gentle and accurate pass from Wellwood and beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a 24-foot wrist shot to give the Sharks are harder-fought-than-they-might-have-hoped victory.We had a 3 on 2, and Wellie just put the puck right on my stick, and I just had to make a play on it, Pavelski said. I was aiming, definitely. I didnt just let it go.The goal ended a mutually-agreed-upon hit-fest that saw 80 shots, 45 from the Sharks despite a 15-minute stretch in the second and third periods where they got none at all, and it also relieved the Sharks of the growing burden of playing without White.White was taken to the dressing room and evaluated constantly during the rest of the evening by Sharks doctors. He not only did not return, he may not be available for Saturdays Game 2.It didnt look good, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. We got a very good look at it; there was a camera right behind the glass. The good thing is, it will be dealt with by the league. But its disappointing because he is obviously very important to us, and because Jarret Stoll is a hell of a player.
VIDEO: Todd McLellan postgame
The hit, though, drew no penalty from either Brad Watson or Greg Kimmerly, both of whom seemed to be screened from a good enough look based on replays.What I would like to have seen is for there to be a penalty called on the play, McLellan said, sidestepping the idea of a suspension for Stoll for what looked to be exactly the kind of hit the league has been trying to crack down upon since midseason. But we have no control over it now. Its in the hands of the league.Whether the league chooses to discipline a player as important as Stoll in a playoff series is an open question, but the Sharks plan to take all of Friday and as much of Saturday as they feel necessary to decide if White can play in Game 2 or beyond. The logical replacement would be rookie Justin Braun, though McLellan did say that Kent Huskins, who had been Niclas Wallins defense partner before getting hurt, is getting close.In other words, it looks like the Sharks defense, already on the thin side, is going to get thinner, relying on significant minutes from Braun and Jason Demers, who had an impressive game, so that Dan Boyle, who fumed outwardly about the Stoll hit, doesnt have to play 35 minutes, as he did Thursday night.Otherwise, it was a game of luck, both good and bad, and goalies, both very very good. Antti Niemi stole several goals from the light-scoring Kings, and lucked out on two open nets that Brad Richardson couldnt finish, and Quick was superb throughout, assuring the fans in both cities that this series will be, as McLellan said Thursday morning, a race to three.What's your take?EmailRay and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag. Follow Ray onTwitter @RattoCSN.

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?”