In the minds of many, Game 6 of the NBA Finals is the first time they think of Klay Thompson and his terrible streak of injuries.
The name of the game had previously been linked to greatness and dominance. Thompson’s best playoff performances occurred in some of the most important games of the Warriors’ playoff series, all of which occurred in the sixth game.
As the Warriors and Grizzlies prepare to face off in Game 6 on Friday night in San Francisco, we look back at some of Klay Thompson’s most memorable Game 6 performances.
What’s going on? It’s no problem at all.
This was expected to be the year when the Rockets finally took over the West after a thrilling seven-game Western Conference Finals in 2018 (more on that later). Kevin Durant was out with an injury, as were James Harden and Chris Paul. At the very least, the Rockets might have won at home and averted a second Game 7, but that didn’t happen. Here’s the story:
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Despite the lack of Kevin Durant, the Warriors fought hard to win this series despite the odds being stacked against them. Game 6 of the NBA Finals was about to become even better for Klay, who was already dealing with a knee ailment. At the end of the third quarter, he had scored 30 points and the Warriors had momentum and a chance to force a Game 7.
That season would be over for him and the Warriors after he tore his ACL.
2018: 35 Points in a Season-saving Performance
This was the first true test for the Kevin Durant-led Golden State Warriors in their young career. Klay Thompson’s 35 points helped the Warriors overcome a 3-2 deficit to force a Game 7 against the Rockets in the Western Conference finals.
2016: Klay’s 41 Points, 11 Threes Keep Golden State’s 73-9 Season Alive
Here is Klay Thompson’s most recognizable and unforgettable performance to date. Warriors dynasty was in full swing at the time. This may have been the peak of the Warriors’ greatness. A regular-season record-setting score of 73-9 was achieved. Is it possible to win back-to-back championships? Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to a 3-2 lead in the conference finals.
When Klay put on his cape, he was ready.
Some Twitter Links
- The Man. The Myth. The Legend … GAME 6 KLAY pic.twitter.com/T9gliPVLG8
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 14, 2022
- Proud to have faith. pic.twitter.com/hF2Gr7f0C0
— 🤮 (@SplashBrothaaa) May 14, 2022
— Amber Turd (@amber_turd_) May 14, 2022
GAME 6 KLAY!!! pic.twitter.com/i1wSb2vn8Q
— 𝒄𝓾𝓻𝓻𝔂 ｘ 𝓹𝓸𝓸𝒍𝓮 🥷🏼 (@TrolledBy30) May 14, 2022
Team USA’s Klay Thompson Breaks Down the Skills That Make Him a Shooting Star:
Last week’s passionate practice at the United States Military Academy at West Point gave Klay Thompson the energy to break down a less important player’s shot—mine.
Thompson looked at this writer’s shooting form and stated, “I see you.” ‘That isn’t that horrible.’ Even so, the Warriors’ sharpshooter recommended that I start my setup a little higher so that I could deliver the shot faster. I heeded his advice because he’s one of the best shooters on the planet.
Thompson was one of just 12 NBA players to be nominated to Team USA’s official squad for the FIBA World Cup, which began play on Monday. Thompson should be a force to be reckoned with in Spain, where long-distance marksmen are in demand.
The modern-day shooter is personified by the 24-year-old security guard. For the first three seasons of his career, he holds the record for the most three-pointers made (545). At 18.4 points per game in 2013-14, he shot 41.7 percent from the three-point range, with 223 three-pointers—second only to his backcourt partner Stephen Curry and Team USA teammate in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game (261).
Thompson talked to B/R about the tools and techniques he used to reach his level of skill while he was still a student at West Point. As a result of the conversation, here are 12 shooting tips that have been adjusted for clarity and length.
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1. It All Starts With the Same Pregame Routine.
First, I’ll need to take five mid-range pictures from five different places. Afterward, I’ll need to nail a three-pointer from each of five different locations around the arc, plus three spot-up threes and three transition threes. A few pin-downs from each side are required next, followed by three straight from each baseline corner. From the highest point, I dash down to the far corner. I need to make a total of six.
The Warriors’ coaching staff gave me some ideas for the routine, and I adapted some of their methods. Before the game, I used to shoot a lot more, but last season in January, I went into a shooting slump. Lindsay Hunter, a former assistant coach, urged me to shorten my practice routine so that I wouldn’t lose my game on the court. So I halved my practice time and saw an increase in my shooting percentage over the following months. It used to take about 30 to 40 minutes. At this point, it’s either 15 or 20 minutes till the next train.
I don’t change my strategy based on who I’m playing. Instead of adjusting to the defense, I strive to adapt to them. Some teams, like the Bulls and Grizzlies, have such distinct defensive styles that getting simple touches in the paint or off the curl is nearly impossible.
New ideas are welcome. I’ve learned a lot about the pregame rituals of the other national teams through this Team USA experience. Derrick Rose was focused on his breathing and his eyes were closed. Visualizing the game in his mind It’s been interesting to see him play and be on the court with him since he was previously MVP of the league.
2. The Key to Moving Without the Ball and Using Screens Is Changing Speeds.
Watching Reggie Miller, Steph Curry, and Kyle Korver inspires me. They’re all great at lulling their men to sleep and then running away from a pin-down when they’ve gotten them to sleep. This causes you to either lose your defender or to be trailed hard by him, allowing for a pump-fake to get around him.
Stop, walk my opponent into a screen, and whirl off in a flash. There is a lot of shifting gears, making adjustments, and having your hands ready. I spent a lot of time shooting with Kyle while he was on Team USA, and I attempted to learn a lot from him. When he doesn’t have the ball with him, he is a natural.
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3. Reading Screens Is a Feel Thing With Your Defender and Point Guard.
If I want to curl or flare away from the screen, it’s not something I plan ahead of time. I just know it. As for my opponent’s feet or where he is, I don’t pay attention to it. Also a matter of perception. Rather, it’s more about how I move off of the screen. I’m going to plant my foot and step back one or two steps if my defender is going to cheat and go over the top. To my advantage, I also attempt to take advantage of my height. It’s difficult to block my shot because I’m 6’7″. I can get a decent look in a matter of seconds.
You also need to build a relationship with your point guard so that he can tell when you’re flaring or curling off the screen. That’s something Steph and I have mastered. We’ve been together for three years now. On the right side of my torso, just below my shoulder, he understands exactly where to place the ball. Then then, because he’s such a fantastic passer, he’ll always give it to me there.
Neither of us doubts our ability to improve. He pushes me since I’ve never played with somebody who shoots the ball better than I do. If we keep our heads down and work as a team, we may be able to smash some more shooting records.
4. Sometimes You Need to Play a Little Physical With Your Defender to Break Free.
I struggle to free myself from his grip. There’s nothing wrong with giving a defender a small shove to gain a few more feet of room. That’s all you’ll need, in reality. My shot will be out of reach if he’s following me and running around the screen.
5. Long Swingmen Defenders Are Typically the Toughest Matchups for Mobile Shooters.
Andre Iguodala used to be on the team, but we’ve been together since last year. Because he wants to protect me, he’s a great practice partner for me. Because he’s so tall, Matt Barnes has an excellent chance of getting through screens. Paul George is also a master at this.
Tony Allen is a good defender despite his shorter stature. He avoids screens well and quickly returns to the defensive line.
6. Many Half-court Sets Are Designed for Great Shooters, Especially Because Their Running Off Screens Can Put an Entire Defense on Alert.
Coach Steve Kerr has told me that he plans to do a lot for me and Steph while we’re moving off the ball. Everyone is familiar with our floppy motion. On one side, it’s either a single screen or a twin screen. I start at the bottom and work my way to the top.
We’ll audible some plays from time to time. Football has several calls; this doesn’t have any of those. The big man on the other block will throw up a screen for me so that if a team tries to top block me, I can simply sprint off the other side. When it comes to the free-throw corner, it’s not uncommon to see Andrew Bogut on the weak side and David Lee on the strong side. Moving off D-Lee or Bogut depends on the defense’s play.
Both of them are excellent at configuring screens, a skill that has become increasingly rare. The cadence between the screener and shooter is often off on offensive calls.
Even when we’re dribbling our guy off the big man, we have to be patient and wait for the screen for this to work. John Stockton, Mark Jackson, and Magic Johnson were great point guards because they could back their opponents in, use the big guy, and then go off the screen.
7. Some Players Can Get Away With Not Being in Top Shape; Not Shooting Guards.
Steph Curry, Ray Allen, and Kyle Korver are all in peak physical condition. They’re always on the go. The game slows down a lot in the fourth quarter. When it comes to transitions, you’ll need to be in peak physical condition.
That’s why I do so many reps on the elliptical machine, which forces me to use my arms, during the season. When you’ve acquired a strong rhythm late in the game, it’s okay to shoot with your arms. Those photos are possible. Push-ups, pull-ups, and a lot of shooting are required. During the summer, I spend an hour or an hour and a half a day shooting. Being in excellent physical condition is more important than gaining weight.
In the offseason, I also need to run a few kilometers every day. Also, when shooting practice is done in the gym or at home, I aim to get as many shots on the move as possible as these will make up a large portion of my game. The great shooters can dash into shots and backpedal into shots. I can always stand still and shoot.
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8. Speaking of Backpedaling Into Shots…
Backpedaling and then setting your feet and getting your balance are two of the most difficult shots in the NBA, as Ray Allen demonstrated in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals. Despite the common misconception, it’s not a simple shot from the corner, since momentum will carry you back to the basket, where you must then gather your composure and fire straight up. After getting my feet planted on the ground, I erupt out of the ground through my toes to get my balance and shoot.
When I was a student in college, my college coach Tony Bennett advised me to visualize water flowing from my toes to my fingertips while I shot. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyle Korver all shoot like a cascade. There are no genuine hiccups in their photos since they all move in unison.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always had good balance and footwork, and I still do. Because I used to play different sports every year as a kid, such as football and a baseball, I believe that’s why. All of it remained. In addition, the rapid release came with a bonus. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I could shoot an NBA three-pointer. Curling into an NBA three is a difficult shot. There aren’t many men who can accomplish it.
9. Certain Non-basketball Sports help improve Accuracy and Conditioning.
Whether it’s tennis or golf, where I walk 18 holes, I try to keep myself in shape by engaging in other hobbies. What a hassle. Several shooters excel at golf, Ping-Pong, or other similar games. It improves your mental toughness because you’re going to make a lot of mistakes.
My golf game has gotten better as a result of this experience. I’ll take it because I’m closing up on 100 now. Steph is the best player I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with.
Ping-Pong has always been a favorite of mine. Paintball is also a lot of fun. I’m also a big fan of swimming. It’s healthy for your joints, too, which is why I enjoy swimming in the water so much. Despite being 38 years old, Tim Duncan continues to swim.
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10. While He Wasn’t the Most Athletic, Chris Mullin Is the One Player Every Shooter Should Study.
Even though I grew up watching Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, and Allan Houston, Chris Mullin had a particular place in my heart. Although he lacked athleticism, he understood exactly where he needed to be and never allowed the defense to slow him down. I couldn’t believe he made it look that easy.
He wasn’t a show-off. He was one of the best players in the game with nothing more than his sleek, compact jumper. To be able to score 25 points per game while also being sluggish and unathletic is an incredible testament to his talent and dedication. He was a huge assistance to me when he was with the Golden State Warriors. For my shot, he advised me to decrease my center of gravity.
11. Being Off-Balance Is Usually the Main Reason for Missing Jumpers.
I know exactly why I didn’t make it. It’s usually a problem with my center of gravity, where I’m leaning too far to one side. I spend the first few minutes of the game focusing on getting my feet planted and my equilibrium in order. But if I’m on fire, I’ll be able to hit those shots amid the action.
It’s hard to avoid thinking about a missed shot throughout a game, but you always aim to get an easy one, whether it’s getting to the free-throw line or curling to the basket. Once you watch the ball go in once as a shooter, that’s all you need to see. It’s as though you’ve regained control of your breathing.
Then I go to the movies after the game. A player, an assistant coach, the head coach—it doesn’t matter who I watch it with. I just need someone to provide me with a sounding board for my ideas. You’ll certainly have a horrible night at some point. You have to face the fact that this will happen in the NBA.
The way I choose my shots is equally important to me. A substantial majority of my shots are successful if I am taking nice ones. It’s a low-percentage shot if I rush my shot and attempt a contested three-pointer or a mid-range shot. Each year, I’ve gotten better at choosing my shots.
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12. The Next Phase for Shooters Means Diversifying Their Scoring Opportunities.
I’m very aware of how aggressive opponents are when it comes to me, so I’m working on perfecting my pump fake to get more free throws. That’s something I recently saw with Chandler Parsons on Team USA. To get guys off their feet, he pulls off a terrific pump-fake move.
You can use a short pump fake to throw opponents off-balance once you get to your place off the dribble, or you can jump into them. That’s something I’ve become better at, especially from outside the arc. Guys know I’m going to shoot most of the time, so all I have to do to get in the lane is pump fake.
My floater has also been getting some attention. I try to keep an eye on Steph because he does things like shot floaters and finger rolls that I’ve never seen before. His finger-rolling technique is out of control. Also, my performance in the post has improved.
I was confident in my ability to move without the ball and catch and shoot when I left college. In the NBA, however, it was all about going into the lane, shooting tiny jumpers, and locating the little pocket pass. That’s what I’ve had to work on the most in my career, and I still need to.
He is a Bleacher Report NBA reporter. Get in touch with him on social media.
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