For the second time in three seasons, Klay Thompson has helped the Golden State Warriors cheat death.
In a near-perfect time loop, Thompson once again emerged as the deciding factor in an elimination Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
Although Kevin Durant would prefer to not dwell on the past, it’s worth noting that with their proverbial backs against the wall, it was Thompson who stepped up. 35 points, 9 threes, and some great defense will be the storyline that gets the most coverage, but there’s a broader schematic importance to his game that often goes unnoticed in these big games.
Role modeling Splash Brothers behavior
There have been a lot of discussion recently regarding Kevin Durant and the increasingly isolation-based offense that has taken over. In the first quarter of game six, it looked like another chapter in that book. Behind Durant’s heroics, Golden State found themselves trailing by a whopping 17 points.
So to start the second quarter, coach Steve Kerr sat Kevin Durant down and had him watch a four-minute clinic on what “Warriors ball” is supposed to look like. In those four minutes, the Warriors were plus-five - but more important than the scoreboard was the demonstration. The role modeling of how to play.
It’s not necessarily Durant’s fault per se. After all, this is the brand of basketball that has brought him so far in his career. But then again, it’s also the style that brought Durant to Golden State, searching for a better way.
Through a series of off ball movement, pass-first offense, and general trust in the scheme, the Warriors once again showed their identity. We’ve seen fewer and fewer flashes of this style recently, but this is how the Warriors win: by not playing isolation basketball.
With the ball crisply shooting around, Klay Thompson hit a three off a Steph Curry assist, then another two pointer that was assisted by Draymond Green. Timeout Rockets... this was not something they wanted to see happen.
So then Kerr subbed Durant back in for Nick Young, leaving the rest of the offense in place. It worked. The team was back to playing their brand of basketball. After that disastrous first quarter, the Warriors blew the pants off the Rockets, finishing the game with a lopsided 93 to 47 run - including an absolutely demoralizing 64-25 advantage over the final two quarter.
That’s the Warriors way. And it’s how Klay Thompson thrives. He just takes over the game in a fundamentally different way. It’s a clear difference in style between ball dominant players like Kevin Durant and James Harden, but it can actually be even more effective.
While Harden, the supposed best two guard in the league finds himself facing increased scrutiny, Klay Thompson smoothly guided his team to victory. That’s wonderful.
Klay Thompson made nine 3-pointers tonight, tied for the second-highest total in postseason history. The only player with more?— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 27, 2018
How about Klay Thompson... Also in a Game 6 Western Conference Finals game while facing elimination (11 3-Pt FG in 2016 vs OKC) pic.twitter.com/hTq1B5KLjC
Other Notable Performances
Thanks as always to stalwart community member, Servant of Luna for compiling these! But here are the other top performers from last night:
29 points 12/23 FGs 5/14 three pointers
5 rebounds 6 assists 2 turnovers 3 blocks
Another efficient performance from Curry leads the list of “also rans.” He’s been oddly deferential as Durant has taken the reins of the offense, but his non-forced excellence remains a key feature of this team. His three still isn’t falling at his accustomed rate, but Curry continues to find a way to do damage.
Draymond Green: (+27)
4 points 2/3 FGs 0/1 three pointer
10 rebounds 9 assists 3 turnovers 4 steals 5 blocks
Green exemplifies the “glue guy” role. Just one steal away from a rare “5 by 5” game, Green was everywhere, serving as a focal point on both offense and defense.
23 points 6/17 FGs 1/5 three pointers 10/14 FTs
7 rebounds (2 off.) 4 assists 1 turnover 1 block
An efficient game and possibly his best in the series. Durant’s more important challenge isn’t scoring; it’s scoring within our offense. He took some huge strives towards that end in this game, and those four assists have never looked sweeter.
Who was your Warrior Wonder in Game 6 against the Rockets
This poll is closed
Klay "I was born for this" Thompson
Handing the Panic-o-meter over to the Rockets fan base