Throughout their playoff series against the Nuggets, there has been one consistent player for the Warriors: Klay Thompson. He has shown the ability to score when the Warriors struggle offensively, hit timely shots, and scored at an efficient rate. In two playoff games so far, Thompson is averaging 21.5 points, 3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks on 60% shooting from the field and 63.6% shooting from the three-point line in 40 minutes per game.Apr 20, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half of game one of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 97-95. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
In the playoffs, Thompson has had a knack for starting scoring runs and getting the Warriors going offensively when they’re struggling. Thompson made the first three shots for the Warriors in Game 2. He accumulated seven points in the first two minutes of the game. Watch more of Thompson’s highlights from Game 2 here. In Game 1, Thompson started a scoring run near the end of the second quarter when he scored eight points. He hit a tough fadeaway and a turnaround shot that helped give the Warriors some momentum. Watch more of Thompson’s highlights from Game 1 here. Thompson has also made more of an effort to drive to the basket and create more opportunities for his teammates, instead of just settling for contested threes.
Thompson has also helped swing the momentum in the Warriors’ favor with some timely shots. The Warriors led 61-53 at halftime in Game 2, and they were able to increase their lead to as many as 17 in the beginning of the second half. With 4:57 left in the third quarter though, the Nuggets cut the Warriors’ lead to seven points on an Iguodala dunk. 17 seconds later, Thompson hit a huge three that brought the lead back to double digits at 10 points. In the fourth quarter of Game 1, the Nuggets built up an eight point lead with 4:41 to go in the game. Thompson hit another huge three with 3:51 left in the game, which brought his point total to 22 points. The Warriors then got a stop, and on the next possession, Thompson got an assist for setting up Bogut on a nice jump hook shot that cut the lead to three. Although the Warriors ultimately lost the game, Thompson showed how confident he was and that he’s not afraid to take the big shot.
The Nuggets are focusing all of their defensive effort on stopping Stephen Curry, especially now that David Lee is out of the rest of the playoffs with his hip flexor injury. Like many other teams did in the second half of the season, the Nuggets have double teamed Curry above the three-point line, and they have used long, athletic players such as Andre Iguodala or Corey Brewer to defend Curry. With all the extra attention on Curry, Thompson has been able to find open, quality looks, and he’s taken advantage of this. He’s shooting at a significantly better rate, 60% shooting from the field and 63.6% shooting from the three-point line, than during the regular season, when he shot 42.2% from the field and 40.1% from the three-point line.Apr 20, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) drives to the basket during the first half of game one of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Thompson has also defended Ty Lawson very well in this series. Lawson shot 6-for-15 from the field and 0-for–3 from the three-point line in Game 1 and finished with only 12 points. Lawson played better in Game 2, shooting 8-for-17 from the field, but he shot 1-for-4 from the three-point line. Because of Thompson’s length and size (6’7″) for a shooting guard, he’s able to block more shots (1.5 blocks per game in the playoffs) and force point guards into very tough shots.
Klay Thompson has stepped up for the Warriors at times when they needed him the most. When Curry was struggling in Game 1, Thompson carried the Warriors offensively while shooting at an efficient rate. In Game 2, Thompson continued to show his confidence and how he can consistently shoot the ball well. Klay Thompson is definitely an X-factor for the Warriors. If he shoots the ball efficiently, gets his teammates involved and rebounds, the Warriors generally win. In the playoffs, Thompson has shown how valuable he is to this team, especially when he’s shooting at such a high percentage.