Ray Ratto

Ratto: Two-faced Sharks living dangerously

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Ratto: Two-faced Sharks living dangerously

Feb. 1, 2011RATTO ARCHIVESHARKS PAGE SHARKS VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

There are so many easy ways to explain San Joses 5-3mortician-cheating victory over Phoenix Tuesday night that one can takecomfort only in the fact that all of them are wrong.

RELATED: Sharks score five straight to shock Coyotes 5-3
It wasnt Alex Stalocks first game, replacing Antti Niemi after 30minutes and change and saving all nine shots he faced, that did it. Itwasnt Joe Pavelskis power play goal with eight seconds left in thesecond period that did it. It wasnt the booing from a properly annoyedcrowd that did it. It wasnt their sudden reacquaintance with the hardwork required to free them from the morass in the middle of the WesternConference. At best, it was a little bit of all of it, but there was nodominant factor.Frankly, theres no real way to explain it satisfactorily. They wereeye-searingly horrible for 39 straight minutes, falling behind 3-0 andseeming to be unbothered by their predicament, and then they were greatfor 21, smothering the Coyotes and scoring five times a mixed-messageperformance about light-switch hockey that could just as easily destroythem as inspire them.But lets just say that some Sharks felt the lash of their compliantticket base and decided that shame can be a powerful motivator.I think maybe part of (the comeback) was the second period, when wecould hear our fans booing us, said Pavelski, who scored his secondand third goals since November. That wasnt fun to hear that,especially in our building. We do take pride in playing here, and wedont really appreciate it.But . . .Oh, we definitely deserved it for the way we were playing.Logically, this would mean that fan-base hatred is they key to all goodthings Shark-related except that they now go on a seven-game roadtrip and wont get to experience that tough love that Pavelskisuggested was the key to victory.They managed to win despite having only 10 forwards (Logan Couture gothit with a flu bug during warmups) and missing Dany Heatley for severalshifts after a turnover. They managed to win despite giving up 27 shotsin 37 minutes and forcing head coach Todd McLellan to replace thelargely blameless Niemi with the rookie Stalock. They managed to winbecause for 21 minutes they acted as though they were an elite teamagain.
REWIND: Couture scratched from game vs. Coyotes
Those moments, though, come few and far between, and as a thoroughlydisgusted McLellan said, We cant do that 31 more times and expect agood end.By now, he has done everything he (or any other coach) can do hesbenched players, hes changed lines, hes kissed them and kicked themand skated them and nurtured them. Theres nothing left to do, and thebig face-slapping trade that would have to involve one of the Big Four(Marleau, Heatley, Joe Thornton or Dan Boyle) isnt going tohappen because they all have no-move deals.In short, the deadline cant save them, and some new coaching stratagemcant save them. Only they can save themselves, and letting the homefolks see how bad they can be is far worse than demonstrating how goodthey can be is beneficial.They are tied for seventh with Chicago, and three points behindfourth-place Nashville. They are also two points ahead of 11th placeCalgary. And this is where they will reside the rest of the season, inthe enormous clot in the middle of the Western Conference, so far fromVancouver and Detroit that they may as well be Vladivostok andNouakchott.
RELATED: NHL standings
Unless, of course, they have that player-generated epiphany that theyalways seem to say theyve had after a big win. They keep playing asthough they like the heat of the third rail, but they also have a lotof charred edges from playing such a cavalier style.In the meantime, they just stole two points they didnt fully earnuntil it was nearly too late, and the best thing for them is that theydont have enough time to absorb the lessons of the first 39 minutes orthe final 21. They play in Anaheim Wednesday, a team almost exactlylike them except in one important way -- the Ducks have already begunthe rebuild to younger and faster that the Sharks may have to undergothis coming summer.They are a playoff team, kind of. They are a team playing for a highdraft choice, almost. They dont know and neither does anyone else.But if Sharks fans want to contribute to the cause in a meaningful way,a loud and healthy festival of boos at the right time seems to workwonders. At least it did Tuesday. God only knows what if anything willwork when they come back against the Washington Ovechkini in twoweeks.What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

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?”