SAN FRANCISCO — Kevon Looney reached over Steve Adams to snag the lengthy rebound off Stephen Curry‘s missed 3-point try. He tossed the ball a couple of toes to his proper to Klay Thompson. In one fluid movement, Thompson caught and shot the ball, good for a 28-foot 3-pointer.
That was the shot that introduced the Warriors to their 110-96 Game 6 win over the Grizzlies, sending them again to the Western Conference finals for the primary time since 2019.
“It’s special,” Thompson stated. “I mean, everything we’ve been through the last few years, it’s really an incredible opportunity.”
Thompson has a particular relationship with Game 6s within the playoffs. He has scored at the very least 25 factors in six of the previous seven Game 6s he has performed in.
In the Warriors’ close-out recreation towards the Grizzlies, Thompson scored 30 factors on 11-of-22 taking pictures, together with eight 3s. He additionally grabbed eight rebounds.
Did this triumphant Game 6 efficiency really feel just like the others?
“It felt better,” Thompson stated. “Especially the perspective I’ve gained from the injuries I’ve had, to be able to compete at the highest level and be one of the final four teams, it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe.”
This one was a punctuation on Thompson’s comeback season — one which noticed him, simply a number of months in the past, hunched over on the bench with a towel draped over his head as he longed to get again out on the ground.
“From the first shot he hit, it was like this — it’s what he’s been looking forward to since he got hurt back in the 2019 Finals,” Stephen Curry stated. “It’s a different joy. It’s a different energy. When you see him getting off, especially in front of our home crowd, it’s just fun to watch.”
According to Draymond Green, there is a correlation between Thompson’s two-year absence and the Warriors’ two-year hiatus from the convention finals.
To most individuals, Thompson’s taking pictures is what the Warriors missed essentially the most. But, additionally they misplaced an irreplaceable aggressive edge that Thompson brings.
“I tell y’all all the time, [Thompson is] one of the toughest guys and most competitive guys I’ve ever played with — no, probably the toughest and most competitive player I’ve ever played with,” Green stated. “And it showed up tonight. You knew right away he was coming out fire.”
Thompson wasn’t the one participant whose efficiency Friday was a mark on a revitalized season. Looney and Andrew Wiggins have been the X components for the Warriors.
Like Thompson, Looney has an injury-riddled previous. But in contrast to Thompson — whose ACL and Achilles tears got here consecutively and resulted in a two-year hiatus — Looney’s have been unfold out by the course of his early profession. But this season noticed Looney change into an iron man — simply one in all 5 gamers to play in all 82 regular-season video games.
After coming off the bench for the primary 4 video games of the collection, Looney was inserted again into the beginning lineup. The Warriors wanted to return out of the gates with extra dimension to fight Memphis’ frontcourt of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Adams.
In his 35 minutes — which included him enjoying the complete fourth quarter — Looney was a power, grabbing a career-high 22 rebounds, half of which have been on the offensive glass. As a workforce, Golden State grabbed 70 rebounds, 44 of which have been offensive.
“Kevon should go by Kevon Olajuwon,” Thompson stated. “Because he was really just a freak out there. The guy has like elastic arms. He can just stretch.”
Putting Looney again into the beginning lineup was a choice in the end made by Green and Curry. The dialogue first began towards the tip of Game 5, when Green stated the Warriors have been being “physically dominated” within the paint.
“We just knew we needed to come out and establish an inside presence to start the game off, and not worry so much about our scoring,” Green stated. “They made it clear they were going to beat us up, and they were doing a good job of it. And inserting Loon back into the lineup changed that.”
This 12 months noticed Wiggins put collectively his greatest season since he was taken with the No. 1 general decide in 2014. It noticed him make the All-Star recreation for the primary time — and as a starter no much less.
With Curry and Jordan Poole struggling, Wiggins introduced the extent of aggression that takes the Warriors to the subsequent degree. He completed the night time with 18 factors, 10 rebounds, three blocks and one steal. And his protection was game-changing, holding the Grizzlies to simply 2-of-15 taking pictures for 5 factors as the first defender.
“Andrew was special,” Thompson stated. “He made some huge threes for us, huge buckets, double-double, great defense. He has been such a great player for us. He makes an impact on both sides of the ball every night. We would not be where we are at without Andrew.”
The recreation cannot be categorized as fairly, although. The Warriors struggled immensely with turnovers — as they’ve all collection — committing 19 for 18 Memphis factors. That, together with 25 factors from Desmond Bane and 30 from Dillon Brooks, is what saved the Grizzlies in it.
But, simply because the Warriors did in Games 1 and 4, they relied on their championship DNA to hit photographs when it mattered. The Grizzlies led 89-87 with 6:30 to go within the recreation. Then the Warriors outscored the Grizzlies 23-7 the remainder of the way in which.
“It’s unbelievable knowing what we’ve been through these last few years, and six out of the last eight, we have an opportunity to play for the Finals,” Curry stated. “Never take it for granted and understand this is what it’s all about, and then for us to have another opportunity to get four more wins and play for a trophy, that’s special.”