Balls: Are nice-guy Warriors tough enough? 

The Warriors proved nice guys can finish first in the regular season. But these are the playoffs, and they can’t play that way any longer.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley was the story of Game 2, and coach Steve Kerr’s team was partly to blame, so much room did it give him. Conley wore a protective mask after surgery on his face, and at least subconsciously, that might have had something to do the passive resistance. This isn’t to suggest that Conley should be put in traction or anything, but somebody has to be close enough to fog up his mask at the very least.

Draymond Green was the only guy who refused to back off, even if he did inadvertently hit Conley while the veteran was in a prone position.

“If the same play happened again, and I gotta go after the ball, I’m going after the ball,” Green said. “It’s no intention to hit him in his face, but he had the ball near his body. You don’t play the game with the intention to hurt anyone, but you don’t play the game timid because somebody is hurt, ether. If you’re on the court, it’s time to play the game. He wasn’t timid enough to score 22 points and change the game, so why should I play timid because he has a mask on?”

Green’s teammates need to ask that same question before it’s too late.

CAN ERRRYBODY SPELL?: Folks in Memphis don’t get out much — by any survey, Tennessee is one of the lousiest states to live in — so the series is a big deal there.

Grizzlies fans have already targeted Green as the villain in Games 3 and 4, which have the potential to be a wild scene at the FedExForum. Even Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) added a log to the fire when he tweeted, “Cheap shot by Green. He knew what he was doing and to whom. #Warriors should be ashamed. #GOGrizz!”

This was the same Cohen who told TMZ last fall, “Eli and Peyton [Manning] don’t do sexual assault on people other than their wives.”

Grizzlies operations president Jason Wexler billed the series as “Memphis vs. Errrybody” and sent some rather peculiar tweets of his own:

“Errrybody else wants them to rain down Threes. Folks down here want us to get Twos & play Twice as hard.”

“Errrybody else talks about the Splash Brothers. Folks down here talk about the Brothers From Another Mother.

Errrybody else values a Stretch 4 hitting Threes. Folks down here value their True 4 getting Z-Bounds.

“Errrybody else prefers to be with the Golden ones. Folks down here prefer to be with the ones in the Mud.”

JOE COOL WINS AGAIN: Tom Brady said his role in the Deflategate scandal will “absolutely not” taint his last Super Bowl victory, but the New England Patriots quarterback is absolutely wrong again.

Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Brady are the only quarterbacks to win as many as four Super Bowls in their careers, but now Brady’s name has an even bigger, bolder asterisk next to it. The Patriots weren’t dominant in any of those victories — their average margin of victory was 4.3 points. Given that Brady and coach Bill Belichick would play with spiked helmets if they could get away with it, how many of the championships are legit? Three? Two? One?

Montana and Bradshaw are in a Super Bowl class of their own. And Brady is a cut or two below them.

JUST ASKIN’: Brady turtled at the lovefest at Salem State University on Thursday night — no surprise there — but if almost everyone outside New England called you a liar, a cheater and a pompous ass, wouldn’t you try to defend yourself even a little bit?

TEAM FEEL-GOOD: Under the terms of the Sharks’ new long-term agreement with the SAP Center, most of their lease money will be used for arena upgrades and not to line San Jose’s pockets.

Which means the biggest off-season improvements for the San Jose Hockey Country Club will be Euro-style toilets, extra-wide, custom leather chairs and an 80-inch television in the home dressing room because, you know, a two-way forward, a top four defenseman and an elite goaltender aren’t important right now.

MORE B.S. ON THE WAY: ESPN parted ways with Bill Simmons, the first superfan-sportswriter of any relevance. As long as amateurs such as Bleacher Report continue to lure cheap, young wannabes who can barely string together a paragraph, let alone conduct an interview, we haven’t seen the last of his kind, sad to say.

MUST BE THE COACHES: In a truly remarkable performance, James Jones came off the bench to drain five 3-pointers for the Cleveland Cavaliers the other night.

Amazing what a guy can do after the Raiders cut him, isn’t it?

THE LIST: Things for Warriors fans to do in the Memphis area:



National Civil Rights Museum


Elmwood Cemetery

Rum Boogie Cafe


YOUR TURN: “Great job! You are the first person I have read who has it right. The Sharks lost a great coach and kept a marginal GM who has no idea what he is doing. Someone is going to get a great coach and my bet is Todd [McLellan] will be hoisting Lord Stanley long before the San Jose Sharks do.” — Fred Holzheiser, Forestville

(Bring back the California Golden Seals!)

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