The Warriors, a league-best 14-2, returned to San Francisco this weekend to good news. Klay Thompson came through well after a week of 5-on-5 scrimmaging and has been cleared to be a full-time participant in all future Warriors’ practices, sources tell The Athletic. Thompson is trending toward a potential return the week before Christmas Day, those sources said.
In-season practices aren’t the most intense. Veterans typically use off-days to rest, get treatment and watch film. So Thompson won’t spend the next week running through constant game speed reps with Steph Curry and Draymond Green. The full-team workouts are pretty light. But this is still a vital advancement in his ramp-up. The Warriors don’t have a game on either Monday or Tuesday. During off-days, they typically set up a scrimmage with players at the back end of their team rotation who need court work. Thompson is expected to join those scrimmages, matching him against other current NBA athletes in a full-blown, unconstrained contact setting for the first time since he suffered the first of two major injuries in June 2019 when he sustained a torn ACL. Thompson suffered a torn Achilles tendon last November.
Free agent and recent pro Dante Exum was among the players in this past week’s Thompson scrimmages, and sources said Thompson had strong showings in the five-on-five play. It was his first time running five-on-fives, albeit with players who are not currently playing on a pro team. Mychel Thompson, Klay Thompson’s older brother, has also been a featured presence as part of the return-to-play plan. It’s been 892 days since Klay Thompson has appeared in a game. His right Achilles tear came during the final stage of his left ACL rehab, so the Warriors — given the extended layoff and recent experience — have been extremely careful easing him back. Steve Kerr has mentioned multiple times his belief that Kevin Durant’s brilliant return from an Achilles injury is partially due to the 18-month gap between tear and return.
“(Brooklyn) did a smart job last year pacing him,” Kerr said of Durant. But Thompson is fully healed from both injuries. It’s now only about conditioning and rhythm, building his body back to game shape. The next month is essentially viewed as his training camp; the increasingly intense scrimmages will be his preseason. In controlled settings, Thompson’s been doing 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 contact for about a month and hasn’t shied away from the cameras, even going through his shooting routine on the main court pregame in a full jersey, an indication of how well he is beginning to feel. Early in camp, he was hesitant to be spotted, even telling a couple of cameras to stop filming.
Those viewing his recent workouts and scrimmages report encouraging shades of the Thompson of old — the shot as deadly as ever, the big guard physicality still a part of his game, though fatigue sets in quickly. Thompson has already warned fans to expect limited minutes upon his return, living in the 18-22 range to start and perhaps some back-to-back restrictions as he builds his stamina. “I'll be honest, I don't expect to come back balls to the wall, 38 minutes a night, guarding the best player, running around 100 screens,” Thompson said in March. “But I'm going to get to that point. I guarantee that."
Thompson will not debut in a road game. Kerr has said the organization wants to save that moment for Chase Center, which nails down a pair of likely dates to expect him back. The Warriors have three home games in early December. That appears too soon. They then go out East on a five-game trip, not returning until Dec. 20 for two home games.
Barring setbacks, either Dec. 20 against the Kings or Dec. 23 against the Grizzlies are expected comeback dates before the marquee matchup on Christmas Day in Phoenix. If Thompson does not return during that pocket of games, the Warriors also have two off days after the Christmas Day game prior to a Dec. 28 home game against the Nuggets. As with all return-to-play situations, it remains in flux, dependent on how his body responds to an increased workload. But that’s the landscape for a Thompson returns as December nears.
Anthony Slater: Here’s a full update on Klay Thompson and James Wiseman from Steve Kerr. -Klay has been playing 5-on-5, but “that doesn’t mean he’s gonna step on an NBA court next week” -Wiseman still hasn’t been cleared for 5-on-5 pic.twitter.com/F6W41gjHkf
Kerith Burke: Klay Thompson is playing 5x5 now, according to Allie LaForce.
“I love it,” Thompson told Sports Illustrated last week, through a defiant grin. “I love it. I hope people keep doubting us. I saw somebody on the TV the other day talking about, The Warriors aren’t contenders because they’ve had a soft schedule. Buddy, we got the MVP, a defensive player of the year. That kind of disrespect bothers me. We have so many champions, guys who have done it in the highest pressure moments, and you’re still gonna question our ability? I love it. But whatever. That’s what talking heads are paid to do.”
“We need Klay back,” Green said. “That will be a huge boost for us. But in the meantime, guys are stepping up, guys are playing well and we're in a good groove.”
Jordan Schultz: Source: Klay Thompson is making “steady progress” and is 5-6 weeks away from his long anticipated return. I’m told Klay is in “great shape” and close to playing 5s, which is paramount to him being cleared. The 11-1 #Warriors play at the #Suns on X-Mas Day.
So well, in fact, that he reportedly could return sooner than originally expected. As in, before Christmas. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski joined "NBA Countdown" on Wednesday, and reported an extremely exciting update on Thompson. "I'm told if he continues on his current course right now in rehab, that a target date for his return will be set probably within the next couple weeks," Wojnarowski said. "And it could be --there's optimism it could be as soon as December 20, December 23. The Warriors have home games before Christmas, and so the plan for Klay Thompson is to continue to ramp up. "The Warriors will go on a road trip in mid-December, and at that point, if Klay continues on this track, he'd go down and play with the Warriors' G League team. And the idea is, and the hope is, they'll have him back perhaps prior to Christmas."
According to NBA insider Brian Windhorst of ESPN, there is confidence Thompson will be at his best in his return to the floor. “The whispers around the league right now about Klay Thompson. They say he looks good. There is a real confidence in there that, especially by the end of the season, that Klay is going to be BACK back,” Windhorst said.
Marc J. Spears: Warriors coach Steve Kerr said James Wiseman and Klay Thompson will not go on upcoming road trip and will have a program in San Francisco to “ramp things up.” Still undecided when or if Wiseman will play for Santa Cruz.
Thompson narrated his long recovery in NBC Sports’ HeadStrong series, and argued that the Achilles injury he sustained was much harder to accept than the first one he got in the championship series against Toronto Raptors since he prepared so hard to finally play again. “For me, when it happened, it was hard to digest for a few months,” Thompson said. “It was hard, man. I can’t even lie to you, it was really really hard. Especially the second time around. The first time, I accepted it. Championship game, five-straight finals, stuff happens. The second time was just so unexpected. It was a week before the season. I was training so hard for like a year, year and a half actually.
Anthony Slater: I’ve heard he’s done some two-on-two and very controlled contact stuff. I’d expect him to get back into full practice at some point in the next few weeks or a month or so. I think the floating target is still around the mid-December range. November 25th will be the full 12-month mark from the Achilles surgery.
But there is reason for optimism on his progress, as Stadium's Shams Charania reported Thursday that Thompson could be cleared for full practice "over the next month or so." "From there it's just going to be about him ramping up, him rehabbing and continue to figure out at what pace do (the Warriors) want to bring him back and when do they feel comfortable with him back," Charania continued.
"It's not just going to be he gets cleared for practice after two major injuries and then just goes into playing. So, there will be a ramp-up period. I would look somewhere in the December-January range for his return. But the Warriors will be cautious. They've been doing a lot of data and science and leaning a lot on data and science, I'm told. So I would expect them to continue to do that. "But for him to be cleared for full practice over the next month, that is optimistic news. And then you have him back in the lineup. Jordan Poole has been playing amazing basketball so far in the preseason, so there is hope for this Warriors season."
Stadium: "I'm told Klay Thompson will be cleared for full practice over the next month or so." Our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania on the timetable for Thompson's return to the Warriors.
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson doing some off the dribble work with Jordan Poole post practice. Klay even dunked twice. Showing some pretty good burst as he eases his way back.
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson with the Warriors for their preseason opener in Portland tonight. Expectation is he will travel this season during late stages of Achilles comeback. Bob Myers and Joe Lacob also here for the preseason opener.
Anthony Slater: Steve Kerr said Klay Thompson "basically did everything in practice today" since they didn't scrimmage or do much contact. "Klay looked great. Shooting the lights out."
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson on the state of his game: “I can make a lot of jump shots. Pretty good at defensive sliding. My timing is a little off. Reaction time’s not there. That’s being rusty two years. I anticipate in the next four weeks playing 5-on-5 again.” pic.twitter.com/Nk9YDlfyGL
Connor Letourneau: Klay Thompson: "I'm still in the middle of my rehab. I'm probably 75, 80% done with what I need to do."
Klay Thompson, Warriors (torn Achilles): The Warriors said in a statement this week that Thompson, who suffered his injury just before the start of camp last year, will participate in “controlled drills” during camp next week, has made good progress during his rehabilitation over the course of the summer “and is on pace to return for the 2021-22 season.” But he has not yet been cleared for full practices or live action. The team, per sources, will increase his workload as his body allows.
JD Shaw: The Warriors release positive injury updates on Klay Thompson and James Wiseman: pic.twitter.com/h3N9nIqScT
For most of Klay Thompson’s NBA career, the Golden State Warriors often described him as “no maintenance.” Why? Thompson consistently shattered shooting records. He played in nearly every game. And he rarely complained. But after experiencing two season-ending injuries in 2019-20 (torn ACL in left knee) and 2020-21 (ruptured right Achilles tendon), will Thompson prove in the 2021-22 season that he no longer requires such hefty repairs? “I would be optimistic that he’s going to be able to get back and compete at a high level again,” said Dr. Michael G. Ciccotti, director of sports medicine and research at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute and an outside consultant for the Philadelphia Sixers, Eagles and Flyers. “But his ability to perform precisely at where he was before? That is something that only time will tell.”
Although the Warriors haven’t given a timeline on Thompson’s return, medical experts said most players take around a year to improve their range of motion, strength and jumping abilities. That sets Thompson up for a possible return in November or December. “I think it would be harder for a player to come back from rupturing their Achilles first and then tearing their ACL second as opposed to how Klay’s injury was,” Kaplan said. “The Achilles tends to be the harder injury to come back from, tends to take a lot more rehab from and can be set back by a knee injury. Because Klay tore his Achilles tendon last, it gives him more time to recover and gives him a better ability to adapt.”
In this Club Shay Shay clip, the new Phoenix Suns big man JaVale McGee tells Shannon Sharpe what to expect in his former Golden State Warriors teammate Klay Thompson’s return: “I expect the old Klay. I can maybe see him slacking on defense in the first month because in the offseason you don’t get those reps. But offensively, he didn’t hurt his arm, so that boy is going to shoot.”
Now, after recovering from the torn ACL, subsequently tearing his Achilles and spending a year rehabbing one of the harshest injuries in sports, Thompson is ready to return this season for the Warriors. While many would feel cheated of having two years of their athletic prime taken from them, Thompson is different, always looking forward and believing there are big things in store when he re-takes the court for the Warriors. "Yeah, I'm balling out this season," Thompson said Thursday on his Instagram Live. "By the grace of God, I will be balling. Injuries are no fun, but it's part of sports. What can you do? ... All you can do is keep moving forward for real. ... I'm going to bounce back, that's a fact. I guarantee that."
"He's doing well in his recovery, but the Warriors are targeting that Christmas day game against the [Phoenix] Suns for his return," Shelburne said on ESPN's "The Jump" on Friday. "He could come back a little bit before that, but in terms of getting his conditioning right, they are targeting the Christmas day game against the Suns. I know that sounds a little late to people, but he was injured on November 18th, so this is 13 months from an Achilles injury."
Wes Goldberg: Does Bob Myers think the Warriors can contend next season? "With a healthy Klay Thompson, I think we're right there with everybody." Adds he doesn't expect Klay to be ready for the start of the season.
During his latest interview on ABC 7, Kerr talked about Thompson’s condition as the Warriors guard works his way back to game shape. The 31-year-old hasn’t played in the NBA since Game 6 of the 2019 Finals against the Toronto Raptors, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. His supposed return during the 2020-21 campaign was also delayed after picking up the Achilles issue during the offseason. “When Klay started running about three weeks ago, it was like the light was suddenly at the end of the tunnel. I could just tell a big change in his optimism and in his feeling of being part of the group–preparing for next season. These last few weeks have been great, he’s putting in so much work,” Kerr shared.
“With an Achilles [injury], those first couple of months are just painstaking in terms of just how slow everything comes, progress wise. So this is really exciting that he’s now on the floor and really starting to move,” Kerr added.
Wes Goldberg: Klay Thompson in an Instagram post says he's begun light on-court work -- running up and down the floor, shooting, etc.
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson, from his boat, updating his patient rehab approach: "Hopefully (return) early next season. The Achilles is like a 12-month recovery phase. I also have to factor in my left knee. I don't want to come back and be half myself." Thompson had Achilles surgery on Nov 25
He sat out the 2019-20 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee in Game 6 of the finals against the Raptors and needing surgery. “He’s going to do everything in his power to get back to 100%, knowing what he’s been through the last two years,” Curry said. “There’s going to be a lot of support around to help him get there but whatever version of him comes back is definitely a boost. We’ll patiently wait for what that looks like.”
Connor Letourneau: Klay Thompson said he's running in the water. "It's good for my psyche," he said.
His father, former NBA player and current Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Mychal Thompson, recently shared a Klay health update with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke. “All that he can do right now is just pool therapy, walking, stuff like that,” Mychal Thompson told Burke in an interview that will air Sunday during "Warriors Pregame Live." “He’s not going to be cleared to do any basketball activity for probably a couple months yet. It takes time with the Achilles. You’ve got to strengthen it and walk and get the tendon all [strong], but he’ll get there.”
“You can just see that he is just seething over there on the bench that he can’t help his team,” Mychal said. “He wants to be out there so bad. Next year when he comes back, guys who had to sit out a year or two, they will never take playing for granted again.”
Golden State Warriors swingman Klay Thompson said it "kills" him to be missing his second straight season, this time because of an Achilles tear, but the former All-Star said his rehab is coming along well and that he still plans on playing for "a long time." Speaking for the first time since suffering a season-ending right Achilles tear during a workout on Nov. 18, Thompson was in good spirits as he discussed the long process he faces.
"I'm living good," Thompson told NBC Bay Area during the Warriors' game against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. "To be back in the building that I'm so eagerly awaiting to play in. Just a little bored at times. Stuff's slow with trying to let my Achilles heal and get to the next stage, which is mobility work, but I'm feeling good. I'm happy to be with my teammates, obviously. "Unfortunately, I'm not playing. It kills me every day, but I plan on playing for a long time, and I don't want to have any mishaps come this rehab."
"Physically he's going to come around," Mychal Thompson told Cory Hepola of WCCO 830 in Minnesota. "He's got to be patient and do his rehab. He's encouraged to see how Kevin Durant, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Matthews, players like those guys who have suffered the Achilles injury and have come back 100 percent and as good as ever. He's also dealing with his knee, but his knee is fine. That gave him no problem and then he tore his Achilles during a workout. Physically, he's going to be fine, but emotionally is where it's tough. Mentally, having to sit out two straight years with a major injury when he's in his prime. That's very frustrating. I tell you one thing, it makes you appreciate being healthy and appreciate your job, even more, when you can't play for two straight years. He'll be back next year this time and he and Steph Curry will pick up right where they left off."
Anthony Slater: Klay Thompson visited with Steve Kerr pregame. Klay told Kerr "the worst" of the Achilles rehab is behind him. Kerr: "He's going to be get into the pool next week and start running in the pool. He's very upbeat about everything."
The Warriors have made it clear to guard Klay Thompson that they’d like to see him around the team as much as possible this season. Thompson, who underwent surgery on his torn right Achilles tendon last month, is slogging through the early stages of his rehab process in Orange County. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr has kept in contact with Thompson and is optimistic that he’ll be around the team soon.
“It’s important for all of us, as well as Klay himself, that he’s around this season,” Kerr said. “Because of last year's absence and the pandemic, and just the whole bizarre year and a half it's been for him and our franchise, I would love to have him up here as much as possible. “That's the plan we've talked about, and I know he wants to get up here once he can really start in on his rehab. So, that connection is really important. Klay is such a huge part of our team. I want our young players to feel his presence, and I want Klay here working with our training staff and getting on the court with our team as soon as he can. I think that will be important.”
The Warriors believe that the locker-room camaraderie will help him stay in good spirits as he navigates his second year away from games. But perhaps just as importantly, Golden State thinks a young roster can benefit from seeing Thompson on a regular basis.
Anthony Slater: Warriors expect Klay Thompson to be around the team soon, Steve Kerr says. Has been doing his early stages of Achilles rehab privately. Kerr: "I'd love to have him up here as much as possible. That's the plan."
Former President Barack Obama is pulling for injured Warriors star Klay Thompson.F "Listen, I can't wait for the season," Obama told Steph Curry at the end of their Instagram Live interview promoting the former president's recently released memoir, "A Promised Land." "Give Klay my love and respect. I can only imagine what he's going through."
Wes Goldberg: Steph says Klay's injury "hasn't killed his spirit." "Our job as his teammates and this organization is to be there for him and make things as normal as possible around the game and around the locker room to take his mind off the day-to-day grind."
Mark Medina: Stephen Curry on losing Klay Thompson for another year: "It's tough. There was no way around it. There was a lot of excitement and anticipation with getting him back." Steph called Klay's latest injury "a gut punch."
Much as it’s tempting to move on from that awful moment, an understanding of the prelude to Klay’s injury might give clues as to his future prognosis. Thompson was on his way to completing his lengthy ACL injury rehab when he tore the Achilles in his other leg at that pickup game in Los Angeles. “One of the biggest things that the therapy team and the medical staff are looking at when he’s recovering from his ACL surgery are the presence of any asymmetries,” Sutterer said. “So, let’s say, for his ACL, his left knee can’t quite hit full extension. If he’s able to straighten his right leg all the way, now you’ve got an asymmetry. That asymmetry is going to put you at risk of other types of injuries. Now it’s impossible to say because we don’t know why the Achilles happened, but any time you have asymmetries in your body, from the strength in one quad to the strength in the other quad, to the flexibility in one ankle compared to the other ankle, it’s an issue.”
“I think it depends on who’s defining full recovery,” Sutterer muses. “I think, no matter how good your rehab is, how great your surgery went, your tissues are always different after you’ve had a surgery. So, if the surgeon is saying a full recovery is expected, that probably means something different from the coach or the general manager saying full recovery because they envision full performance recovery, as opposed to full basic functional recovery, which is what a surgeon might be saying. “So, I think it certainly is possible that he can get back to a similar version of what his natural career trajectory would have been, but there’s no doubt that it will be the hardest thing he’s ever done on a basketball court in his life.”
Shams Charania: The Golden State Warriors have been granted a Disabled Player Exception worth $9.3 million due to the season-ending loss of Klay Thompson, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium . It expires on April 19.
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson underwent successful surgery earlier this morning to repair a torn right Achilles, it was announced today. The surgery, performed by Dr. Richard Ferkel in Los Angeles, is expected to keep Thompson sidelined for the entire 2020-21 NBA season. He is expected to make a full recovery.
In an interview with the Bay Area News Group, coach Steve Kerr said had it not been for Thompson’s injury, the Warriors may not have used the trade exception at all this offseason. “It 100% triggered the Oubre trade,” Kerr said. “I’m not sure we were going to use the TPE if Klay had been healthy. It was more likely that we would have used the mid-level exception, maybe split it up. That’s what we were talking about anyway.”
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry said he was brought to tears after he received the news about teammate Klay Thompson’s season-ending Achilles tendon injury last week. “You feel for a guy who has worked so hard to get back on the court two-three weeks out of [training camp] and something like that happens,” Curry told The Undefeated on Monday. “You need to have a big-picture mentality when something like this happens. It’s easier said than done going through a lot of rehab, but there is a lot of time left in his career. We’re going to be there through it all.”
Curry learned about Thompson’s injury during a conference call with Warriors general manager Bob Myers and head coach Steve Kerr. “He’s the best 2-guard in the league,” Curry said. “To get that call was a gut punch for sure. A lot of tears. You don’t really know what to say because a guy like that is having to go through two pretty serious rehabs now. But at the end of the day, we have to have his back. We hope that he is around and a part of what we do through his rehab and staying connected with us.”
Stephen Curry: “We know we can compete with anyone in the league. It’s kind of crazy. We know how great Klay is. Don’t get me wrong. But we hear the chatter. ‘It’s the end of for us. This year is a wash. What are we going to do in the future?’ But we are in the moment right now. It’s kind of refreshing being in that category as guys that are chasing. We know [the Los Angeles Lakers] are the defending champs. We got to beat them. We’re ready for it.”
“In the middle of all that, Bob Myers is sitting next to me and he says, ‘a 911 call from Klay’s agent,'” Lacob told me Thursday on my podcast. “And I looked at him, I said, ‘what?’ And he picked up the phone and I could tell there was a problem and then he walked off to talk to him I think more privately, there were a lot of people in the room. And that’s when it happened. “He came back in. I mean, just devastating news for him and for us as an organization. Of course, it put us all in a situation where we had to react really quickly, not panic. But certainly we could’ve decided to change our approach literally two hours before the draft based on imperfect information. Not knowing exactly what had happened or how bad it would be.”
“First of all, we would never do that, as you know,” Lacob said. “We didn’t try to bag last season. Some really bad things happened and unfortunately, we were really bad; we have to admit that. And we wound up with the second pick in the draft, which I think is hopefully a transformational pick for our franchise. “But I can tell you when this happened and we thought what the consequences might be, if the injury was as bad as we thought, two hours before draft night, I thought about it for about 15 minutes. And then I got everybody together in the war room right before the draft and I addressed them. Bob also addressed them.
Shams Charania: The Golden State Warriors have applied for the Disabled Player Exception worth $9.3M due to the season-ending loss of Klay Thompson, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Bobby Marks: Just a note on GSW and Klay Thompson Golden State will likely get back $8.5M (and possibly more) from their Temporary Total Disability Policy (TTD) with Klay. They will receive $275K for every game he misses after 41.
At some point, Klay Thompson will be back on a basketball court. “He will be back and 100 percent,” his agent, Greg Lawrence of Wasserman, texted Thursday, after official word came that Thompson had torn his Achilles’ Wednesday.
Anthony Slater: Joe Lacob told @TimKawakami he gathered Warriors front office after Klay news: “I said: ‘We’re not tanking. If anyone’s even thinking that, get it off your mind. Forget it. Give me options. What can we do to make this team as good as we can make it?” Pod: theathletic.com/podcast/13-the…
Magic Johnson: Klay Thompson’s injury makes me sick to my stomach!! I hope he turns to league again soon 100% healthy. Just know Cookie and I are praying for you @KlayThompson 🙏🏾
May 19, 2022 | 12:59 am EDT Update
Jones told Burns & Gambo on Wednesday that he believes Deandre Ayton will be back with the Suns next season. “Deandre had an amazing season and he’s progressed every year and improved every year,” the GM said. “He’s been here and so he’s a big part of what we do. His future with us is something we will address at the proper time which is in the future. He’s a free agent and I’ve said all along, he’s about the same things we’re about which is winning. We’ll address it at the proper time.”
On possible supermax deal for Devin Booker and rookie extension for Cam Johnson. If Booker makes All-NBA this year, he’ll be eligible for a four-year deal worth $211 million while Johnson is up for a rookie extension heading into his fourth NBA season: James Jones: “That’s a part of the business. As your team improves, typically your payroll increases. We’re focused on improving the team and those guys, they deserve the credit. They deserve the accolades and the financial rewards that come with being good players and productive players. It doesn’t preclude us from doing anything. We’re not talking about a luxury tax issues or avoiding those things. That’s not something that’s going to prevent us from continuing to build this team and keep this team together.”
“Had a great year, just one of those nights,” said O’Neal as Ayton finished in Sunday’s Game 7 against Dallas with a career playoff-low five points on 2-of-5 shooting. “Phoenix had a great year, just one of those nights. This is a classy organization. This is a classy team. Can’t say bad things about them. They played hard. Again, even great players have one of those nights.” O’Neal, and fellow TNT NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley discussed Ayton’s future with the Suns after the top overall seed was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday’s Game 7 in Phoenix. “You’ve got to re-sign Ayton,” Barkley said.
“(McGee) played well, he was a great addition to the team, but it all hinges on Deandre Ayton,” Barkley said. “It’s him and Booker. They are the guys going forward. Chris is going to be 38 (years old). He’s going to get the ball to the right person, but it’s time for Booker and Ayton. You can’t have a bad game like they did. Chris, he had a tough night, but Ayton and Booker, they’ve got to play well.”
Once Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson slowed down, caught their breath and stopped rushing shots, the Splash Brothers got on a roll that proved too much for Dallas to stop. Especially because Andrew Wiggins worked end to end to make sure Luka Doncic couldn’t get going. Curry had 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, Golden State held Doncic in check and the Warriors beat the Mavericks 112-87 on Wednesday night for a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. “Just make him work, that was the main thing,” Wiggins said.
Doncic scored 20 points but shot just 6 for 18 and 3 of 10 from deep. He made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half to get his team within 54-45 at the break, but Curry and Thompson heated up and helped the Warriors pull away in the second half. “A great job. That’s it,” Doncic said. “They did a great job.” Jalen Brunson scored 14 points but missed all five of his 3s for the surprising Mavs, who stunned the top-seeded Suns in a 123-90 thumping in Game 7 on Sunday in Phoenix.
“They did a really good job. Wiggins picking him up full court,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “They went box-and-one, they went zone. We understood coming into the series that we were going to see that. We’ll go back and look at the video and see what we can do better.” Stopping Doncic, who was averaging 31.5 points in the playoffs, is the tall task this time after the Warriors already handled two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver in the first round, then Ja Morant early last series before his knee injury. “I thought Wiggs was fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Doncic is as difficult a cover as there is in this league. … It’s important to make him work. He’s so good. Any great player in the league you’re trying to limit the damage that they do.”