Klay Thompson returns after left leg contusion in collision with J.R. Smith during Game 1

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4892/" data-ylk="slk:Klay Thompson">Klay Thompson</a> holds his left leg in pain after being fouled by <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3835/" data-ylk="slk:J.R. Smith">J.R. Smith</a> early in the first quarter of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. (Getty)
Klay Thompson holds his left leg in pain after being fouled by J.R. Smith early in the first quarter of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. (Getty)

Golden State Warriors All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson limped off the floor and back to the locker room midway through the first quarter of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals on Thursday, after a frightening collision with Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith.

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With just under 6 1/2 minutes to go in the opening quarter of the Finals’ first game, Smith hit a 3-point shot to give the Cavs an 18-15 lead. The Warriors looked to push the ball down the court in transition, outletting the ball to Thompson as he raced past half-court. A retreating Smith attempted to close on the pass and interrupt Thompson’s catch, but he slipped as he reached for it, going down short of Thompson and sliding into Klay’s planted left leg:

Thompson’s knee buckled while his ankle stayed still, leaving him in evident pain as he hit the ground. After a brief stay on the court, Thompson was able to get to his feet, make his way off the court, grimacing as he did so. Shortly after taking a seat and being visited by team training personnel, Thompson got up and headed to the locker room with Warriors head performance therapist Chelsea Lane.

Thompson had previously injured the same left leg on a drive during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets. He wouldn’t miss a game, and would explode for 35 points in a Game 6 win that helped push the series to a winner-take-all Game 7, which the Warriors won to advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals.

Shortly after Thompson went to the locker room, ABC’s Doris Burke reported that the Warriors had diagnosed him with a left lateral leg contusion, that he was getting taped up, and that they expected him to return. The team’s public relations arm offered a slightly different word choice shortly thereafter …

… but Thompson returned to the bench late in the first quarter, to roars from the crowd at Oracle Arena, and opened the second quarter on the court.

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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