OAKLAND — It looked bad for Klay Thompson when the Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith crashed into the back of his left leg midway through the first quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night at Oracle Arena. Thompson’s knee and ankle bent awkwardly, and he rolled in pain before exiting to the locker room.
But when the second quarter began, the durable Thompson was back on the floor. He wound up playing 45 minutes in the Warriors’ 124-114 overtime win and scoring 24 points. Replays showed Smith slipped while going for the ball, and Thompson exonerated him from blame for what appeared to be a dirty play.
“I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Thompson said after the game. “I don’t think it was intentional.”
Speaking on a media conference call Friday, Thompson provided a positive update. “It’s sore, but it’s nothing too bad,” he said. “It’s less sore than it was (Thursday) night, so that’s a great sign.”
Asked if he thought it was more severe the moment it happened, Thompson said, “No, because I felt it in my ankle. I just thought I rolled it tough. Nothing in my knees or legs. It was just a high ankle, and it trickled down as the night went on. Luckily, we have a couple days between games, so I’ll be able to get right.”
As much as Thompson is celebrated for his shot, his presence on defense is critical, especially in the absence of injured Andre Iguodala, who still is suffering from a bone bruise on his left leg. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Iguodala took part in a light workout Friday but remains doubtful for Game 2 on Sunday.
Speaking of Thompson’s ability to play through pain, Kerr said, “Klay is just a physical specimen. It’s just incredible — the resilience, the stamina to play both ends night after night, 40-plus minutes in the playoffs. He’s a machine.”