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Will Klay's Game 6 heroics show up against the Grizzlies? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
There weren't many positives, barely any, from the Warriors' 39-point thrashing against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on Wednesday night at FedExForum. One of the lone aspects to hang your hat on showed up early, not even three minutes into the ballgame.
Despite the Warriors eking out a comeback win in Game 4, Thompson had a night to forget from the field. He scored 14 points while going just 6-for-20 from the field and didn't make any of his seven 3-point attempts. Thompson also turned the ball over three times, a far-too-high number for someone who is best served as a catch-and-shoot player.
But one bad night isn't going to stop him from shooting, nor should it.
His blank night from deep was the first time he played a game without making a 3-pointer since also going 0-for-7 in a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 20, which is the only other time he has gone empty-handed beyond the arc since completing his two-and-a-half-year comeback.
The first time he caught the ball ready to fire in Game 5, it was a result we're all accustomed to seeing. Splash, three points for the Warriors, as well as Thompson. Just 24 seconds later, he drained his next shot -- a 19-foot jumper.
"I thought he got some good looks early on," Warriors acting head coach Mike Brown said Thursday to reporters. "Klay, similar to [Steph Curry], are unbelievable shooters, especially when Klay is on balanced. You can almost count his shot wherever he's taking it on the floor, you can almost count that as in.
"I thought he got some good looks, especially early in the game last night."
As the Warriors' offense struggled right out of the gate, Thompson was the only one who could get anything going. In the first quarter alone he scored almost as many points as he did all game the previous contest. He scored 12 points, went 5-for-7 from the field and 2-for-4 from deep.
No other Warrior made more than two shots in the first quarter, and Curry was their second-leading scorer with six points.
Thompson finished the blowout loss with a team-high 19 points. He went 7-for-12 from the field, 3-for-6 on 3-point attempts and made both of his free throws. His 58.3 field goal percentage was his best since going 12-for-20 in Game 4 of the first round, when he wound up scoring 32 points.
Since then, he has averaged 16 points per game. In those six games following his 32-point showing, Thompson is shooting 38.1 percent from the field and 27.7 percent from downtown. But he was much more in rhythm and under control in Game 5, as opposed to rushing and forcing shots.
That begs the question: Are we in for a vintage Game 6 Klay performance Friday night against the Grizzlies at Chase Center?
The last time he stepped foot on the floor for a Game 6, an elite performance ended in heartbreak. We all know what happened when he rose for a dunk in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. His walk down the tunnel after tearing his ACL, hitting two free throws and running back on defense forever will be an inspiring sequence replaying in the minds of Dub Nation. Before his first of two season-ending leg injuries, nobody could stop him.
On the same night the game was taken away from him, he proved yet again why he's an all-time great. In 32 minutes, Thompson scored 30 points. He was 8-for-12 from the field, 4-for-6 on 3-pointers and made all 10 of his free throws. An iconic performance.
With the Warriors down three games to two in the 2016 Western Conference Finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 6 Klay hit its climax. It's a night that forever will be talked about. His eventual Hall of Fame highlight reel will be full of clips from this night.
It gives Golden State fans a sweet dream and the entire state of Oklahoma nightmares.
Thompson was seeing red that May 28th night, catching firing at Chesapeake Energy Arena. He saved the Warriors' season with 41 points, and set a new NBA playoff record with 11 3-pointers. Legendary.
Don't get it twisted, though. Thompson has had a handful of other big-time Game 6 performances. Starting with that takedown of the Thunder, Thompson has averaged 28 points the last six times he has played in a Game 6. In those games, he has shot 54 percent on 3-point attempts while averaging six threes per game.
And the last time he had a chance at a close-out Game 6 to end his opponent's season for good, he did just that against the Houston Rockets in the 2019 Western Conference semifinals. Curry was the hero of the night, scoring all 33 of his points in the second half. His fellow Splash Brother wasn't too bad either.
He scored 27 points, went 10-for-20 from the field and 7-for-13 when launching from long distance.
The Warriors need role players and stars alike, including Curry, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, to show up and help send the Grizzlies home. This also wouldn't be a bad time for Game 6 Klay to show up.
History is on his side, and the Warriors can only hope a new chapter is written Friday night in front of their home fans.