Ray Ratto

Ratto: Hard reality -- Sharks' margin for error gone


Ratto: Hard reality -- Sharks' margin for error gone

May 9, 2011


Ray Ratto
The charming sideshow of Devin Setoguchis Twitterectomy is done now. So is that of Jeremy Roenick, Professional Sland-Blaster.
And that leaves you with the harder reality of Game 6 in Detroit, and a Sharks team that is thisclose to losing the ability to free themselves from their reputations -- win or lose.Right now, the Sharks are watching people edge toward the back gate of the bandwagon while they decide if the Sharks are just setting the customers up for the mother of all letdowns -- the Three-Love-Okey-Doke.But theyre not there yet. Losing Games 4 and 5 opened the door to doubt and self-loathing, but it hasnt pushed the doubters and loathers through it yet.
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Losing Game 6 Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena, though, would. Gay-ron-teed, as they say in New Orleans.It would make the Sharks a team that had a chance to kill a team that could kill them and lifted their heads out of the chipper-shredder just in time to get their own heads rammed into it. It would make them the Vancouver Canucks who nearly blew their series with the Chicago Blackhawks, which is barely one step better than being the Boston Bruins, who actually did hurl away a 3-0 lead to the Philadelphia Flyers.And it would turn Thursdays seventh game back at Le Pavillon du HP into an angst-a-thon powerful enough to bring down the roof.RELATED: Sharks-Wings Rd. 2 TV scheduleresults
It would be a game nobody would be eager to anticipate. It would be a game that would scare the hell out of the customers as they faked their way through the work day, scare them as they filed into the arena, scare them as they stood in line for the 12 beers, scare them as the team was vomited out of the giant shark head, and scare them through the national anthem and the puck drop and every single minute of the game. It would be a day-long festival of waiting for the other shoe to drop.And if they lost, the summer would be a hellish laugh track. And even if they won, nobody would trust them in the next round anyway, even if the opponent were those other members of the Tracheotomy All-Stars, the Canucks. No lead would be safe, because no lead has been safe. No moment would include the phrase, Were going to get em now, because nobody would have the nerve to tempt fate so brazenly.The playoffs, in short, would become a fair piece less fun because around every line shift, disaster loomed. You cannot get that close to the third rail without feeling a little jumpy the next time you ride BART.Thats whats at stake Tuesday night. Not the series, though the Sharks would have spent all their margin for error, and would actually have to play with the Reaper standing at the bench ready to take the ice. Its the additional knowledge that nobody would have their back after this, even with a fan base that has been loyal to the point of being cult-struck.How could anyone still believe in a Game 7? Vancouver fans, who know series-interruptus far better than San Jose fans, didnt exhale through Game 7 of the Chicago series, and that was even before the Green Men were punished by the NHL for felony impishness.RELATED: Canucks-Predators Game 6 preview
So this is it, kids, your last time to enjoy a Sharks game for awhile. Not because there wont be more of them, but because if they lose this one, there wont be any more that you can relax and cheer with a free and unfettered soul. There will always be that watermelon of doubt, that no matter how good things get, lousy is just around the corner.In short, this is what the Sharks play for Tuesday. After that, its for their very hides.Ray Ratto is a columnist with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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?”