Klay Thompson Hoping For A Better Finals Performance

June 1, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) addresses the media in a press conference during NBA Finals media day at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
June 1, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) addresses the media in a press conference during NBA Finals media day at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

With The Golden State Warriors advancing to their second straight NBA Finals, Klay Thompson is hoping for a better performance than last year’s showing.

Klay Thompson has played the role of Robin to Stephen Curry‘s Batman to perfection the last two years — always willing to stay in the background as Curry and the Golden State Warriors have taken the league by storm.

But with Curry having been sidelined for six games in this year’s playoffs, Thompson has stepped into the role of the team’s top dog, while Curry recuperated from ankle and knee ailments.

But even with the two-time MVP back in the lineup, Thompson turned in a playoff performance for the ages in a Game Six victory against the the Oklahoma City Thunder. All he did was go nuclear in tallying 41 points while setting a playoff NBA record with 11 three- pointers.

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Thompson would love nothing more than to continue riding his hot streak into the Warriors‘ NBA Finals rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers — especially after his first Finals experience last year. On a personal level, it was a Finals to forget for Thompson, as he struggled mightily from the floor and often found himself in foul trouble.

Much of the fouling issue could be attributed to his defensive assignment on LeBron James and the physicality that went with it. But to many, including his own teammates, the feeling was that Thompson grew weary as the season progressed longer.

"“As the season went on I think he wore down a little bit, mentally more than anything,” said Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala."

Minus a 34 point outburst in Game Two of last year’s Finals, Thompson’s numbers in the series proved he had hit a wall. In the other five games against the Cavs, Thompson averaged just 12.2 points with just eight made three- pointers.

For the entirety of the series, Thompson was just 12 of 40 from downtown and shot 40.9% overall. He fouled out meekly in the Game 6 clincher, finishing with more fouls than points (five).

Heading into this year’s Finals, Thompson is primed to outperform his first Finals experience. He has already made twenty more three-pointers than last postseason, and has increased his scoring output from 18 ppg to 26. More than anything, the aggressiveness and stamina are more apparent over last postseason.

"“He’s a better player than he was last year, so he’s obviously done that the entire season and in the playoffs up until this point,” Curry said. “Another year under your belt and being here for the second time, I think everybody will be more ready for this stage and him included.”"

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With the Cavs motivated to avenge last year’s loss and with a full complement of players to throw at the Warriors this time out, Thompson will have to be huge if the Warriors are to repeat. That includes on the defensive side of the ball, where more than likely he will be rotating assignments between James and Kyrie Irving, who has been integral to the Cavs’ dominance this postseason thus far.

They key for Thompson will be how he reacts to chasing a shifty and creative Irving and the powerful James. Even if Thompson is able to slow both down, will he still be effective shooting the ball?

If the series with the Blazers was any indication, Thompson is ready for the challenge. Thompson forced Damian Lillard into a couple of poor shooting nights while still averaging over 30 ppg himself. And Thompson didn’t have the luxury of having his Splash Brother next to him, so he performed at his best with the defense honed in on him.

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If the Warriors are to bring consecutive championships back to the Bay Area, it is imperative that Thompson be contributing as steadily as usual on both ends of the floor. But after last year’s Finals performance, don’t be surprised if Thompson’s motivation brings his level of play to a Final’s MVP award standard.