The moniker ‘Game 6 Klay’ may already be etched into Golden State Warriors’ folklore, but it can take on an even greater meaning should Klay Thompson help rescue his side against the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena on Friday night.
The defending champions staved off elimination at Chase Center on Wednesday, but now comes the real test as Los Angeles seek to advance to the Western Conference Finals on their home floor.
Built from a similar situation seven years ago, the Golden State Warriors desperately need Klay Thompson to channel his Game 6 greatness on Friday night.
In the 2016 Western Conference Finals, Thompson and the Warriors were, like the present, pursuing a 3-1 comeback. They won Game 5 at Oracle Arena before heading to Oklahoma City for the crucial Game 6 against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
It’s here where ‘Game 6 Klay’ was truly born. A then all-time playoff high 11 three-pointers lifted Thompson to 41 points, silencing the Thunder faithful as the Warriors rallied late to return the series to The Bay where they duly prevailed in Game 7.
‘Game 6 Klay’ is hardly predicated on one performance though. Since and including that night in Oklahoma City, Thompson has scored 25+ points in seven of his last nine Game 6’s. As part of that run, 30 points and eight threes to close out the Memphis Grizzlies in last year’s Conference Semifinals, 30 points within three-quarters before the devastating ACL injury in the 2019 Finals, and 35 points with nine threes to force a Game 7 against the Houston Rockets in the 2018 Conference Finals.
More than anything though, Thompson needs to bounce back from a recent shooting slump that’s hurt Golden State in this series to date. The 33-year-old had 55 points across the first two games at home, including 30 on 8-for-11 from three in the Warriors’ dominant Game 2 win.
Since then, Thompson has added 15, nine and ten-point performances over the last three games. In that span he’s 11-for-37 from the field and 8-for-24 from three-point range. Thompson promised to honour the memories of Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Crypto.com Arena, and he now has the opportunity to right the wrongs of Games 3 and 4.
In some ways he’s very fortunate that others stepped up in Golden State’s Game 5 win on Wednesday, now giving him the opportunity to explode and provide a performance that’s worthy of the ‘Game 6 Klay’ title.