When J.R. Smith slipped and slid into Klay Thompson in Game 1, many thought Thompson would be out for a while, maybe even the entire Finals. His ankle and knee seemed caught at awful angles, and he had to limp immediately to the locker room. It was his second leg injury of the playoffs.
But Klay Thompson returned, diagnosed with a leg contusion, and played almost the entire rest of the game. His simple game of hitting threes and playing tough defense came through, and that much is amazing.
Klay has always been an NBA Iron Man, rarely missing games due to injury. In fact, he had his first major injury of his seven-year career this March, when he fractured his right thumb and missed a few weeks. He’s never missed a playoff game in his career.
After Game 1, he was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, which usually takes weeks to heal. Just the day before Game 2, he was noticeably limping, but he still planned on playing.
But the Warriors were skeptical. Draymond Green didn’t believe Klay and his happy-go-lucky disposition. He even told Nick Young he’d need to prepare for more minutes in Klay’s absence.
Full Draymond Green quote on Klay Thompson's toughness gutting through a bad ankle injury. Includes a funny Nick Young story. pic.twitter.com/fgevHe6LgW— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 4, 2018
But Klay Thompson indeed played in Game 2, and did well. At times he seemed a little hesitant with his shot, but he started feeling it later in the game. Even though he didn’t look 100%, he put in incredible effort, with an aggressive offensive game, finishing with twenty points on 8 of 13 shooting.
Klay is often thought of as the Warriors’ fourth star, but his impact cannot be overstated. His shooting and defense make him the prototype 3-and-D star, giving his teammates the spacing and support they need. He has no ego to combat with, no desire other than to win. He can fit and excel on any squad.
After the game, Klay said he had no idea that ankle injuries affected so much. Stephen Curry, meanwhile, knows about that too much. Let’s hope that this team stays healthy for the rest of the Finals.