OAKLAND, Calif. — For much of these playoffs, it seemed that one of Golden State’s “Splash Brothers” couldn’t hit the ocean with his jump shot. After a 3-for-16 shooting performance in Game 1, Klay Thompson was hitting only 36.6 percent of his shots in the playoffs.
But Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before Game 2 that Thompson was on the verge of a breakout game because he was playing so well on defense and making all the right decisions on offense. Thompson made Kerr look prescient with 22 points and 8-for-12 shooting in the Warriors’ 132-113 Game 2 win over the Cavaliers on Sunday night at Oracle Arena as they took a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.
Although he previously insisted he wasn’t worried about his shot coming around, Thompson’s relief was palpable when it finally did.
“For me, it did feel good to see the ball go in,” Thompson said. “More importantly, it felt good to get the win. I was just in a good rhythm. It started with getting to the basket early and taking good shots. If I do that, it’ll all even out.”
Stephen Curry, the other “Splash Brother,” had 32 points and Kevin Durant scored 33, meaning the Warriors’ big three stars totaled 87 points. Although the Cavaliers played much more physical defense than they had in Game 1 with some first-half success, they couldn’t sustain it against so much firepower.
“We’re never worried about him and his shooting and the spotlight that’s on that,” Curry said of Thompson. “He does so much for us on the defensive end, and his presence on the floor as a threat to shoot [helps] even if he doesn’t get an attempt up. But when he’s making shots, and a lot of timely shots tonight, they were huge. I knew he didn’t lose confidence in himself and knew he was helping us win even though he wasn’t shooting the ball well. Hopefully, he’s created a little bit of momentum for himself going into Game 3.”
Durant liked the aggressiveness he saw from Thompson at the offensive end. “I think his driving to the rim and his defense got him going and knocking down his three,” Durant said. “He drove to the rim a few times, and he had seven rebounds. I’ve never seen it [from Thompson].”
After giving up 38 points to Durant in Game 1, the Cavaliers had to pay more attention to stopping him when he had the ball, which meant they had to cheat off Thompson and Curry a little bit. That might have created the room Thompson needed to operate.
“Klay didn’t shoot the ball well in Game 1, but tonight he was getting open looks,” Cavs forward Kevin Love said. “Even at his size, just having that quick trigger, it just keeps guys on your toes. It makes you try to pressure the ball more. But playing up allows him to hit the little pocket pass or throw it over the top to their big [Durant], and then they’re able to make plays. They have a number of playmakers on that team, and their coaching staff has done a good job of putting those guys in positions.”
If Thompson’s offensive game is back on track, it’s going to be very difficult for the Cavs to derail a Warriors team that has taken on the look of a juggernaut with an NBA-record 14th straight playoff wins.