Warriors vs. Celtics: Golden State needs more struggling Klay Thompson to advance to the NBA Finals

Anything written about Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson in connection with the NBA Finals has to be couched by saying that the fact that he’s even on the ground is impressive and inspiring.

Thompson missed two full seasons thanks to serious lower body injuries and worked relentlessly to get back to the ground. There were some who were amazed if he would make a full comeback, just as there were some who wondered if the Warriors trio of Thompson, Draymond Green and Steve Curry would return to the Finals after a few seasons.

Both things happened, and they both deserve recognition, even celebration. But, nevertheless, the Warriors will simply need more of Thompson – aka their second “Splash Brother” – going forward if they are to raise their fourth flag under Steve Kerr’s tutelage.

To say Thompson was cold during the first two games of the Finals would be an understatement. In the 69 minutes he played during those two games, Thompson made 10 of his 33 shots from the ground (including going for four of 19 in Game 2), hitting only four of his 15 attempts from long range. He only scored 26 points, five rebounds and four assists. Thompson wasn’t much of a factor in either game. Although Thompson struggled, the Warriors won Game Two on Sunday night, 107-88, after losing Game 1.

Now, Thompson’s missed shots differs from many other players who have missed shots, as his sheer presence on the ground warrants defensive attention thanks to the reputation he’s earned for himself over the course of his career. So even when he’s not shooting himself, he’s helping create open opportunities for his teammates, as he did here:

Thompson was not directly involved in the play, but he kept Jalen Brown out of the action. Brown doesn’t want to leave Thompson open, which in turn opens a driving lane for Curry to take out a dodge delivery. Such a value does not necessarily appear on the stat sheet, but Thompson does bring it in in spades. It’s more valuable to the Warriors, though, when he fires high shots at a high clip — as he did in the Golden State’s closed games against the Dallas Mavericks (32 points from 12 from 25 shootings) and the Memphis Grizzlies (30 points on 11 from 22 shootings). ).

So, how does Thompson go back to that? Maybe by slowing things down a bit. Looks like he’s been pressing a little bit in the finals, so far. He seems so excited about dropping the big shots that we’re all so used to seeing him hit that he forces things out sometimes. He also seems to let frustration creep in, as he can be seen slapping his hands together and shaking his head as the bugs started piling up Sunday night.

Boston’s defense certainly deserves some credit for Thompson’s struggles in the series thus far. They weren’t the best defensive team in the league during the regular season for no reason, after all, and they did a commendable job of curbing his appearance. However, if you go back and look at Thompson’s mistakes from Game 2, you’ll see a lot of shots to be had – especially for Thompson. like this:

And this:

These are the shots we’ve seen Thompson pose countless times over the course of his career. Obviously, he can. While it might be an oversimplification of things to say he just needs to do a better job of diverting his attempts, there is at least some truth in that. After all, the NBA isn’t being called a “make or miss league” for nothing.

When Thompson makes shots, it is very difficult to bring down the Warriors. When it’s not, well, it’s still hard to defeat them, but they become more vulnerable. In addition to simply stabilizing Thompson and finding rhythm, it’s also clear that Coach Kerr will have to continue to put him in a position of success. In Game 3, he might consider playing a few more direct combos for Thompson in order to try to get him to move on.

It is especially important for Thompson to make his shots in order to maximize his value to the Warriors at this point in time, as he is not yet back to form the dominant defender he once was. Maybe he’ll do it again, but it’s a slower step than he used to be at this end now, and this move takes him from being a close perimeter defender to just an above average defender. The Warriors even chose to have him guard senior Bostonians like Al Horford on some property, rather than posting him to surrounding threats like Jaylen Brown. In the past, if Thompson wasn’t making shots, he could make up for it defensively, but that’s not currently the case.

Again, this is not intended to hit Thompson, but the facts cannot be ignored. He simply needs to be better than he was in games 1 and 2. He was self-confessing. Playing alongside Curry’s best shooting game, opportunities will always be there for Thompson, and it’s up to him to take advantage of them. His ability to do so could go a long way toward determining which team will ultimately win the Larry O’Brien Cup this season.

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