You are probably looking at the picture above thinking: “What is this, old news?! Kevin Durant doesn’t play for the Thunder anymore, get out of here!” Well, sort of but not quite. We here at GSoM are piloting a new series called “Golden Moment” where we will revisit some of the most memorable moments and biggest games in Warriors history.
Why revisit old games you ask? Because we as fans live for the moments that generate our fandom. Those moments that become so ingrained in our memories that we pass them on to future generations to birth new fans. So whether you have been a fan for just 1 year or for 30+ years, sit back and relax; we got it from here.
In this first installment we revisit Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals and how Klay Thompson completely took over.
May 28, 2016 - Down three games to two, the Golden State Warriors found themselves crawling out of a hole they had buried themselves in. Facing a second straight elimination game, the Warriors headed on the road to Oklahoma City for game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. A regular season unlike any other, 73 wins. The expectation coming into the postseason? Championship or bust. The pressure was at an all time high.
Yet the Warriors found themselves in a vulnerable position, on the brink of elimination and a season that could be all for not. Up to this point, the Thunder had clearly dominated the series and looked to have the upper hand. In the previous 2 games in OKC, the Thunder outscored the Warriors by an average of 26 points and claimed both victories. The Thunder were favored to win the game and advance to the NBA Finals to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. The odds were stacked against the defending champions.
Warriors: Stephen Curry (PG), Klay Thompson (SG), Harrison Barnes (SF), Draymond Green (PF), Andrew Bogut (C)
Thunder: Russell Westbrook (PG), Andre Roberson (SG), Kevin Durant (SF), Serge Ibaka (PF), Steven Adams (C)
The atmosphere was electric, a raucous crowd clad in blue playoff t-shirts. The Warriors looked into the crowd, staring into an ocean of blue that was ready to ignite after every Thunder bucket. The city could feel it, the team could feel it, it was their prime chance to return back to the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were firing on all cylinders.
Win or go home
The Warriors collected a victory at home in game 5 to stave off elimination but now it was time to put up or shut up. Win game six and force a decisive game 7 at Oracle. Up to this point in time, just 9 teams had overcome a 3-1 deficit in a 7 game series. Of those 9 series, just 3 were in a conference finals series (Source).
The tension was high. The team that looked indestructible all season had been exposed in the limelight.
The best two words in sports are often proclaimed to be “Game Seven,” a culmination of drama and momentum swings leading to an epic conclusion. Game Six is the ultimate swing game. The Warriors came into this game with everything to lose. Early in the the series it became evident Curry was less than 100% and playing through injury. With Curry unable to make the dazzling plays we saw during the regular season, he had to defer to his teammates.
If there is anyone who can take over a game outside of Curry, it’s Klay Thompson. If Curry is the baby faced assassin, Thompson is the stone faced killa. Thompson doesn’t play with all the flash Curry does but he can light a team up before the opposing team figures out what hit them. The thing about Thompson is that when you know he’s on early, he’s on cruise control. The form is pristine, so from there it’s all about getting his feet set.
The Stone Faced Killa
The Thunder start off grabbing the opening bucket with a mid-range jumper from KD.
10:46 (1st Q) - Thompson catches an in-bound pass from Steph, Adams meets him in the corner. Thompson fakes the shot, dribbles left and puts up the shot. Swish. 3-2 Warriors.
4:26 (2nd Q) - Down 28-41, Warriors are in a double digit deficit trying to stop the bleeding before half time. Curry tosses it to Thompson in the left wing rolling around a screen from Bogut, takes a few dribbles left, nails the three. 31-41 Thunder.
3:40 (2nd Q) - Curry drives towards the center of the lane, Thompson shades from the top of the wing catching his defender sleeping. Thompson gets the bounce pass from Curry in the corner and nails another three. 34-41 Thunder.
2:11 (2nd Q) - Curry grabs the missed three from Ibaka and starts the transition break. He runs into a towering Durant at the top of the key, then dribbles left and out to the left wing. Thompson meets him there and receives a soft shovel pass to nail another three. Westbrook lost Thompson on defense and tilts his head in disgust as he watches the ball bury the net. 40-44 Thunder.
11:51 (3rd Q) - Curry is at the top of the arc, gets double teamed by Westbrook and Adams as he tries to go right. With no where to go, he hoists it to the left over to Thompson in the wing. In stride, Thompson catches and shoots as Roberson breaks to the rim to cover a cutting Bogut. 51-53 Thunder.
11:26 (3rd Q) - Curry throws it into Bogut who has Adams posted up. Thompson rotates around Curry who sets a screen on Roberson. Bogut dishes it to Thompson. By the time Westbrook is able to switch onto Thompson, the shot is already up in the air. Westbrook turns his head and stares at the arc of the shot already knowing that the ball is destined for the net. The Warriors take the lead, 54-53 Warriors.
Entering the 4th quarter, the Warriors were down 75-83. This could be the last 12 minutes of the season. All the Thunder needed to do was to play the same way they did the first three quarters to advance to the NBA Finals.
11:29 (4th Q) - Thompson receives a dish from Green on the right wing and nails another three. As Thompson runs back on defense, he bends over and claps his hands. Trying to rally the team from deficit. Stone faced and determined, Thompson wasn’t going home. 78-83 Thunder.
9:56 (4th Q) - Iguodala hands the ball over to Green at the top of the arc. Thompson is being held by Randy Foye, Iguodala calls for a pick. Thompson rolls around the screen into the corner where he receives a pass from Green almost identical to the last play, nails the three. 81-85 Thunder.
8:40 (4th Q) - Curry fires off a corner three while guarded by Durant; it clanks off the rim. Meanwhile Thompson is weaving through traffic, carving his way through the defense to create a play for himself. Bogut meets Thompson up top for a quick hand-off. Dion Waiters tries to catch Thompson up top but is met with some nice hip action by Bogut who then gets thrust into Thompson. If the feet are set, the shot is wet! Nails his 9th 3-pointer and third of the quarter, 84-89 Thunder.
4:59 (4th Q) - Green is handling the ball up top, Thompson jumps off his defender and catches the pass up top from Green. Westbrook switches onto him and stares him down waiting for Thompson to make his move. Thompson hoists another three from nearly 30 feet out off his wrong foot, having to rotate into the shot. At this point, Thompson doesn’t care; he’s got the greenest of green lights. Anything and everything was falling, and Thompson was unconscious. 92-96 Thunder.
1:52 (4th Q) - The score is all knotted up at 101 with just under two minutes remaining. Westbrook has the ball in hand up top with Thompson guarding him. Westbrook surveys the court. Durant tries to get free of Iguodala and shade towards to top left wing to clear out the lane for Westbrook. This was a key play as Thompson switches onto Durant up top and Iguodala onto Westbrook. Westbrook goes left, Iguodala forces him out of the the paint.
Wesbrook looses his footing, tries to regain his footing and goes up for the shot as the shot clock winds down. Iguodala swipes down and strips the ball as Westbrook goes into a super kick. Iguodala retains the loose ball and fires off a pass from OKC’s paint to a running Thompson in transition. Before Durant can even throw a hand up, Thompson stops and pops for another three. “Thompson fires for three, YES” Marv Albert proclaims. 104-101 Warriors.
The Warriors defeat the Thunder 108- 101. Every time the Warriors were down, Thompson chipped away. It was a legendary performance for the ages, an NBA playoff record 11-3pts made in a single game. Game Seven would be forced at Oracle on Monday night.
The icing on the cake? A Billionaire owner reduced to bowing in the presence of greatness. Klay Thompson is a Stone Faced Killa.