“Killa Klay” has struck again.
The Golden State Warriors defeated LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers 127-100 in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinals Series Thursday night, thanks in large part to a vintage performance from Klay Thompson.
The 33-year-old shooting guard posted 33 points on the strength of an 11-18 night from the field that also included eight made 3s. Thompson’s latest outburst not only helped the defending champs tie the historically tricky best-of-seven series at a game apiece but could also be a sign of things to come as they look to repeat.
“That’s the best version of Klay when he’s really going offensively but he’s taking great shots.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Yahoo Sports after the win.
Warriors: Don’t forget about Klay Thompson.
The narratives surrounding the Lakers-Warriors second-round series have largely concerned the matchup between Stephen Curry and LeBron James, but it could be each legend’s supporting cast that makes the difference down the stretch of the series.
It’s no secret that Curry and Thompson have been a massively successful backcourt tandem and have practically revolutionized the sport with their consistent use of the 3-point shot. But Thompson has not been the same player since tearing his ACL during the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors and tearing his Achilles before the 2020–2021 season.
While the Washington State product was an integral part of the 2022 championship team last season, he was able to rely more on Curry as well as youngsters like Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins.
With Wiggins still working his way back into the fray after missing two months of the season due to personal reasons and Poole struggling to be consistently elite, Thompson will have to bring his best against LA.
His Game 2 showing should be encouraging for Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and co., as it illustrates that given even the slightest amount of space, Thompson can still knock down big jumpers, and tally efficient points.
The LeBron James and Anthony Davis-led Lakers are not built to outshoot their opponents. Players like D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura have shown an ability to connect from range, but their primary goals are to play well in transition and generate easy looks in the paint.
In their 117-112 Game 1 win, the Lakers scored 54 of their 117 points in the paint and were aided by a particularly solid outing from Davis, who collected 30 points and 23 rebounds on an 11-19 shooting clip. This is a key dynamic that the Warriors will likely look to exploit, especially after Thompson’s play early in the series.
To beat LA, Golden State must dictate the flow of the game and actively create a shootout. A slower, more defensive game will favor the Lakers’ efforts to grab turnovers and construct easy chances on the other end of the court. If the Dubs are able to play by their own rules, it follows that Klay Thompson will be primed for more vintage moments this postseason.