Klay Thompson proves his worth to Warriors in many ways vs. Nuggets

Klay Thompson proves his worth to Warriors in many ways vs. Nuggets

OAKLAND — Klay Thompson had a simple declaration for Kerith Burke just before he left the court during halftime Friday night. 

 "We're dialed in. We’re having fun over here!" the Warriors guard proclaimed in his first game back from an injured knee. 


Over the last few weeks, such statements have been few and far as the Warriors navigate one of their worst stretches of the season. But with this matchup against the Nuggets providing a chance to stay atop the Western Conference, Thompson's 39 points and nine 3-pointers brought a calm to the champs in a season full of chaos. 

Thompson's impact was immediate in the 122-105 win at Oracle Arena. He scored 10 points in the first quarter, helping push the Warriors' lead as high as 19. By halftime, he pushed his point total to 27, making six 3-pointers before the break.

More noticeable was Thompson's play during times of need. When the Nuggets erased a 19-point deficit midway through the second quarter, it was Thompson who hit a timely shot, sparking a 17-4 run to close the half.

When the Nuggets threatened again in the second half, cutting the lead to 11, it was Thompson who blocked a shot and hit another 3-pointer to put the game out of reach. 

"He impacted the game in so many ways," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "He obviously had 39 points, but it's his defense, too. Chasing ball handlers over those high screens, being physical, using his length and intelligence to make guys uncomfortable ... he was amazing. He was awesome." 

Thompson's performance came at a particular moment of peril for the Warriors. Entering Friday, they were giving up 111.4 points per contest, posting a 109.5 defensive rating over their last five games and winning just three of seven since the All-Star break.

The Warriors' fortunes got worse when Thompson suffered a knee injury against the Magic. Then, the team suffered its worst loss of the Steve Kerr era, losing to the Celtics 128-95 on Tuesday night as Thompson rehabbed.

So, with just a one-game lead over the Nuggets in the Western Conference standings entering Friday, Thompson needed a big game.

"It was a good step in the right direction," Stephen Curry said. "We wanted to obviously beat them and create some separation because we have a lot of work to do to get that No. 1 seed and pull out the season strong."

Last season, the Warriors' disinterest led to a 7-10 finish to the regular season, marking the first time under Kerr that Golden State finished second in the Western Conference standings. More than seven hours before Friday's game, with the team just 3-5 since the All-Star break, Thompson was asked if he feared his team was going toward a similar path this season.  

[RELATED: Klay says Warriors still motivated to get home-court advantage]

"I don't have not one bit of concern in my body," he responded. "When we're challenged and our backs are against the wall, we are at our best. Knowing what's at stake these next 18 games, we got to play like that."

Hours later, his words rang true, and if the Warriors have it their way, Thompson's sentiments will carry out for the rest of the season and beyond. 

Warriors' rest advantage grows with Raptors' Game 4 win against Bucks

Warriors' rest advantage grows with Raptors' Game 4 win against Bucks

If you subscribe to the notion that a playoff series doesn't begin until a home team loses, well, then the Eastern Conference finals have yet to begin.

After dropping the first two games of the series on the road, the Toronto Raptors evened the series with the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night with a 120-102 victory at Scotiabank Arena in Game 4.

In winning each of the last two games at home, Toronto has ensured that the Eastern Conference finals will go at least six games. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors have already advanced to their fifth consecutive NBA Finals after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in four games.

Golden State has plenty of time to rest up before the Finals begin on May 30th. Whichever team represents the Eastern Conference won't have as much of a luxury.

Given the fact that several players on the Warriors' roster -- most notably Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins -- missed part or all of the series sweep of the Blazers with injuries, the extra time off before the Finals begin certainly comes in handy.

[RELATED: Dubs overcome injuries to earn some much-needed rest]

Game 6 between the Bucks and Raptors is on Sat. May 25th, meaning whichever team that comes out of the East will have at most four days to recuperate before the Finals begin.

That would already seem to be a significant advantage for Golden State, but if you want to get greedy, there's plenty of reason to believe the Eastern Conference finals could require a Game 7.

Patrick Beverley says Clippers gave Warriors best challenge in playoffs

Patrick Beverley says Clippers gave Warriors best challenge in playoffs

Programming note: Watch the NBA Finals pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday, May 30 at 4:00 p.m., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley is a confident person.

Beverley doesn't back down from anybody and he speaks his mind freely.

On Tuesday morning, he made the following declaration on Twitter:

Sorry Mr. Beverley, but we respectfully disagree.

Here were the results of the Warriors-Clippers first-round NBA playoff series:
Game 1 = Warriors 121, Clippers 104
Game 2 = Clippers 135, Warriors 131 (Golden State led by 31 points with about 7:30 left in the third quarter)
Game 3 = Warriors 132, Clippers 105
Game 4 = Warriors 113, Clippers 105
Game 5 = Clippers 129, Warriors 101
Game 6 = Warriors 129, Clippers 110

The Dubs' average margin of victory was nearly 18 points.

In the second round, the Rockets beat the Warriors twice and every game was decided by six points or less.

Although Golden State swept Portland in the Western Conference finals, the Blazers had the following leads:
Game 2 = 17 points early in the third quarter
Game 3 = 18 points late in the second quarter
Game 4 = 17 points with less than two minutes left in the third quarter

[RELATEDDame says Dubs-Blazers 'completely different' with one change]

While you could make the argument that the Clippers gave a better challenge than the Blazers, the Rockets clearly were the most formidable foe.

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