The Golden State Warriors return guard Klay Thompson to the starting lineup for Friday’s tilt with the Denver Nuggets. Guard Klay Thompson sat the last 2 games with a bad right knee, an injury that required an MRI. Thompson confirmed this during a media availability this afternoon.
Thompson also told ESPN, “I’m sore but I’ll be all right. I don’t think it’s anything serious, but it’s definitely better [we] take the right precautions for sure.”
On top of confirming his availability tonight, Thompson also showed off his readiness during a video taken from practice.
Golden State and Denver are the top-2 teams in the Western Conference, and tip off at 10:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. The Warriors hold just a 1-game lead for the No. 1 seed.
They have dropped 3 of their last 4 games, including a 33-point drubbing at the hands of the Boston Celtics Wednesday. The Warriors made just 8-of-35 triples (just 22.9 percent), an area that Thompson will immediately address.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr mentioned that Thompson’s knee previously was “inflamed enough” that “it didn’t make sense to play him.” This was before last week’s win over Philadelphia.
Thompson ranks third on the Warriors with 22 points per game, mostly on the back of his deadly 39.6 percent shooting from behind the arc. He trails only Stephen Curry (28.3 points) and Kevin Durant (27.5).
Here’s the Warriors’ outlook for tonight against the surging Nuggets:
Warriors Roster and Lineup vs. Nuggets
Kerr started Alfonzo McKinnie in Thompson’s place during the absence. The second-year player out of Wisconsin-Green Bay scored just 7 points in the 2 games.
The former G-Leaguer and Toronto Raptor has averaged just 14 minutes and 4.7 points per game. He has proven to be a capable shooter in limited time, hitting 57.7 percent of his twos and over 33 percent of his triples.
I wrote last week that Golden State would have to replace Thompson’s production in aggregate, using Andre Iguodala and Jonas Jerebko. The two have combined to score over 12 points a game, but only tallied a combined 9 points against the Celtics.
Thompson’s return figures to get Golden State’s lethal attack back on track. It ranks No. 1 in the league, totaling 118.2 points per game. Even without Thompson against the Sixers, the Curry-Durant duo helped generate 120 total points, 8 points more than Philadelphia allows per contest.
Denver possesses a top-10 defense, ceding 107 points per game en route to a 43-21 record. Last time the Nuggets and Warriors met, Thompson poured in 31 points with 5 treys to help Golden State run away with a 142-111 victory. That included an NBA record first quarter with 51 points.
Warriors Outlook Tonight vs. Nuggets
Team Rankings gives the Warriors a 67 percent chance of winning tonight. It would keep them on track to finish with a 56-28 mark on the year, only second to the Milwaukee Bucks out East.
Tonight’s matchup between the West’s best naturally will go a long way to determine the final playoff seedings. Currently, Golden State carries a 71 percent chance to possess home-court advantage per Playoff Status. A win tonight boosts that to 82 percent.
The teams have split the season series, as Denver took the first matchup last fall 100-98. Both will meet again on April 5.