Ray Ratto

Sharks' McLellan not playing goalie games

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Sharks' McLellan not playing goalie games

Editor's Note: Catch 'Sharks Week' all this week on SportsNet Central at 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 7.

The conditional green light Todd McLellan gave to Antti Niemi as the Sharks goaltender Saturday night is essentially Niemi being declared ready to go against Phoenix.We know this because:(A) McLellan needs Niemi to be the guy until Antero Niittymaki healthies up and can become the loyal backup.(B) McLellan doesnt typically say, If he says hes ready, hell play for anyone not named Thornton. That is a prerogative he reserves for himself.(C) He knows that he has to take greater care about October, November and December than the employees did a year ago, and rushing Niemi at all is far too stupid for a man of his qualifications.

San Jose spent an extraordinary amount of energy just getting into the race last year after frittering away a good 15 weeks with sub-mediocre hockey. It may have contributed, at least in part, to the rash of injuries that whittled away at their skill in the postseason -- as proven by the otherwise unwarranted struggles they had with Los Angeles, the way they nearly blew a 3-0 lead against Detroit, and were outmanned as thoroughly as they were against Vancouver.Thus, McLellan isnt going to expose a 97.724 percent healthy Niemi to the workload he will have to take on while Niittymaki is up on blocks -- unless he has suddenly fallen in love with Thomas Greiss to such an extent that he doesnt much care whether Niemi or Greiss plays. This is beyond counterintuitive -- this is crazy.And McLellan doesnt do crazy. He does have a gift for always having a goatee with three days growth without ever giving evidence that he has ever shaved it off, but thats about as close to the wild side as he gets. If he says Niemi is ready if he says hes ready, he already knows that Niemi is ready and going to say so.And thats 97.724 percent certain.

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?”