Klay Thompson has to play better or the Golden State Warriors won’t be winning the NBA title, according to NBA star CJ McCollum.
In order for the Warriors to capture their fourth title in eight seasons, the other half of the “Splash Brothers” duo, Klay Thompson, must play better, McCollum said Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up.” In the first two games of the series Thompson is averaging 13.0 points on a paltry 30 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three.
“If he plays like he did in Game 2, they have no chance of winning this series, to be honest with you,” said McCollum, who spent years in Portland as Damian Lillard’s sidekick and is the veteran leader of a rising New Orleans Pelicans squad.
Thompson looks unsure of himself, and that’s to be expected for a guy who missed 941 days after suffering back-to-back catastrophic injuries (torn ACL and torn Achilles). But this is “Big Game Klay,” who’s always risen to the occasion and played better in the game’s biggest moments. He’s even garnered the nickname “Game 6 Klay,” for his past huge performances in the clutch.
The Warriors are one bad fourth quarter from being up 2-0 against the Boston Celtics. But with the series now shifting to the East Coast after two games in San Francisco, Steph Curry has been dynamite, averaging 31.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, on 45 percent shooting and 44 percent from three.
Curry can’t be expected to carry that offensive load all series. Thompson has to pull his weight.
Thompson Looks Like He’s Rushing: A Product Of Timing Being Off
Missing any time as a professional athlete has to be tough, but when you miss two and a half seasons due to injuries, returning to full athletic capacity might not be possible. While Thompson has had moments, he’s been erratic and choppy more often than not.
McCollum says the legendary shooter is rushing things, and the way Boston has chosen to defend Klay is also a factor.
“He seems a little anxious. I think it’s coming down to the Celtics defense, they’re running him off the line, they’re making him play in the arc so to speak, and having him shoot contested twos, and then when he finally gets an open three, I feel like he’s rushing it because of the way the game has been flowing. But all in all, I think he’ll settle in and become more of his normal self. I think you’ll see Game 6 Klay sooner than later and if you don’t, the Warriors could be in trouble.”
Head coach Steve Kerr is a former player and knows he’ll need Thompson to win it all. Expect the Warriors to look at getting him some easy looks in Game 3 to unlock him a bit. He needs to see the ball go in the basket, and not just be a catch-and-shoot guy all the time. When going against a defense like the Celtics you want to show them multiple looks, that way they can’t just lock in and shut that down.
In fact, have you noticed the amount of pick-and-rolls Kerr called in Games 1 and 2? It’s been their best play and something he didn’t do much of during the regular season. He deviated from the flex motion offense that’s become synonymous with Warriors basketball. It’s worked, now he needs to do something to get Klay going.
Jordan Poole Needs To Continue To Play Well
The young, infectious and at times erratic Jordan Poole played well in Game 2 with 17 points and five made three-pointers, including two back-breaking bombs to end the third quarter, essentially icing the game. He’ll need to supply that offensive punch off the bench, and he’ll need to do it by playing under control.
best time of the year pic.twitter.com/6E9kDtdN1T
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 7, 2022
The Warriors have won at least one road game in 26 consecutive playoff series (NBA record). For that trend to continue in Beantown Thompson will have to jump off of that missing poster and into splash mode.