Warriors need Klay Thompson's shot in do-or-die Game 6 vs. Lakers

Dubs desperately need 'Game 6 Klay' in do-or-die clash vs. Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors keep waiting for Klay Thompson to shoot like the Klay Thompson we’ve come to know. Their patience is commendable, as they routinely cite what he is providing rather than what he is not.

Leave it to Draymond Green to add a teaspoon of cold truth to the bowl of warm praise.

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Asked if he felt the Warriors needed a potent shooting night from Klay and whether there might be pressure for him to deliver it in Game 6 Friday night and perhaps beyond, Draymond paused for the briefest of moments.

“We're champions, so there's pressure every time you step on the floor,” Green said late Wednesday night, after the Warriors’ Game 5 victory over the Lakers. “You go out there, you don't win, people are ready to crush you. People forget about the things that you have done in the past immediately. So, it's always pressure when we step on the floor.

“I do think he's due for a big shooting night.”

“Due” is a polite way to put it for a career 41.6-percent shooter from distance, but it’s a direct reference to reality.


Thompson has made a splendid career as a two-way player, but his shot is what strikes fear into opponents. There have been dozens of examples of him demolishing defenses with long-range strikes. The Lakers got a glimpse of it in Game 2 of these Western Conference semifinals, when Klay scored 30 points on 11-of-18 (61.1 percent) shooting from the field, including a breathtaking 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) from deep.

Five of his teammates also scored in double figures, and the Warriors won by 27. When Klay cooks, the Warriors fly. They are, according to statmuse.com, 64-10 when he drops at least 30 points.

Thompson’s totals in the other four games, three of which the Warriors lost: 20-of-62 (32 percent) from the field, 14-of-40 (35 percent) beyond the arc. An average of 14.8 points per game.

The nadir was in Los Angeles, where Klay yearned to perform at his best, only to deliver his worst. He averaged 12 points, on 32/33.3-percent splits. He had six turnovers, a career-high in the postseason – “inexcusable,” he said in the locker room – and followed it in Game 4 with a forgettable performance punctuated by two late-game heaves deserving of Page 1 in The Book of Bad Shots.


Meanwhile, Klay is being showered with compliments for his defense, as if any observer would focus on the steady hand rather than the one failing to juggle five cups of ketchup.

“The thing with Klay is he's an incredible two-way basketball player. That’s what wins in the playoffs,” Steve Kerr said after Game 5. “Shooting comes and goes, even for the best. But if you can defend, which Klay obviously can do, then you can help a team win a playoff game – and in Klay's case a lot of playoff games.

“So, the great thing is we know Klay's due for a good shooting night. But whether it comes or not, we know his defense is going to impact the game.”

Klay’s defense is needed for the Warriors to be competitive. For them to be successful, they also need his scoring.


“You’re talking about a guy who is one of the, arguably one of the greatest shooters ever that we've ever seen,” Green said. “He steps up in big moments.”

For most of this series, Stephen Curry has been trying to defend – the Lakers are forcing him to use energy on that end – while also trying to fill the tremendous scoring void created by backcourt sidekicks Jordan Poole and Thompson combining to average 26.4 points on 40-of-128 (32.3 percent) shooting.

That’s a formula for Golden State failure.

Having Klay on the floor provides much-needed spacing, particularly in lineups with two “non-shooters.” The Lakers through the first five game have respected Klay’s shooting. They continue to chase him hard.

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But even when he gets open, Thompson rarely punishes the team for which he grew up cheering.

“I hope they start helping off of him since he's not shooting well,” Green said. “Because he'll get it going fast.”

Klay’s first two chances for a night of postseason glory against the Lakers in LA ended in frustration. He was disappointed, not so much in what he did but what he did not. He lives for buckets.

He gets another chance Friday night. No guarantee there will be another.

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