Wednesday, April 25, 2007
There’s a sickness in the Bay Area right now and it’s called playoff fever. The only remedy for it is elimination, something that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon. Both the San Jose Sharks and the Golden State Warriors are in the postseason and are looking good.
The Sharks start a second round series against the Detroit Red Wings, a team they’ve won three of four games from this year. The Warriors are in the playoffs for the first time in well over a decade, and are probably the hottest team in the entire NBA right now.
The Sharks are skating well, playing like a complete squad and focused on getting to the Stanley Cup Finals. With a great mix of veterans, rookies and role players, the Teal Team looks poised and ready to roll.
Team leader Joe Thornton had six assists in the first-round series against the Nashville Predators, and the team has benefited greatly by adding players like Bill Guerin and Craig Rivet late in the season. Team Captain Patrick Marleau is a scoring machine and a clutch playoff performer.
When the big fish start their series against the Red Wings tomorrow night, they’ll have to be very conscious of the fact that Detroit finished only six points ahead of them during the regular season. In the past, the Sharks might have had a reason to be intimidated by a perennial powerhouse like the Red Wings. Not this time. San Jose can beat this team and they know it.
Thirty miles to the North, the Golden State Warriors have made an amazing turnaround and are the talk of both the Bay and the NBA. Sage Coach Don Nelson, the cagey old codger with more basketball experience than the late Red Auerbach, is leading this team to the promised playoff land playing super smart “small ball.”
Tonight’s Game 2 against the Dallas Mavericks should be a real test for both teams, because the Mavs now realize that they’re entering a knockdown drag out series that should go the distance.
Point Guard Baron Davis is leading this team and if the Warriors hope to get to the next round, other players will have to contribute, especially if Dallas MVP front-runner Dirk Nowitzki starts playing at his usually high level. Jason Richardson, Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and Mickael Pietrus all have the ability to step it up. If they do, Dallas is in big trouble. This could be one of the greatest Cinderella stories in the history of sports. It could also be a short, sad story. We’ll know a lot more after tonight.
With both teams in it to win it, the playoffs are the talk of the sports scene here in the Bay Area. It’s the very best professional hockey and basketball has to offer. If both the Sharks and Warriors get further into the postseason, you can be certain that the electricity in this area will be sizzling. On top of it all, the SF Giants are on a winning streak and the Oakland A’s are in first place. Maybe there’s even hope for the 49ers and/or Raiders to get considerably better by adding some young talent to their rosters during this weekend’s NFL Draft. There are a lot of positive things going on around here and if you’re into Bay Area sports at all – it’s a damn good time to be a fan.