Given the unfortunate myriad of injuries that have sidelined Klay Thompson over the past two seasons, it may seem like it’s been an eternity since he last took the court. But despite missing Thompson, and the 2020-2021 campaign coming to a premature end for the Golden State Warriors, Dub Nation can perhaps take a happy stroll down memory lane on Friday to get over their sorrows.
On this day five years ago, the 31-year-old son of former top pick and two-time NBA champion Mychal Thompson had a performance for the ages, and he did it when the Warriors needed him most.
And thus, “Game 6 Klay” was born.
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The final line for Thompson on his epic night doesn’t do his performance justice, but the numbers included 41 points on a solid 14-for-31 shooting. However, what obviously stood out was the record-breaking 11 three-point field goals made on an efficient 18 attempts.
It’s not like Thompson’s output came completely out of nowhere. Number 11 was already in his fifth season, had averaged a then-career-high 22.1 points per game in the regular season, and was establishing himself as an elite defender.
Prior to the history-maker on May 28, 2016, Thompson had already had a 52-point game the previous season, was a two-time All-Star and had an NBA title on his resumé.
Stephen Curry’s other half in the “Splash Brothers” duo added in four rebounds, one block and one steal to his output, and of course, this was an elimination game.
Thompson’s Historic Game Came at a Pivotal Time in Warriors’ Dynasty
It may be a bit hyperbolic to write that if not for “Game 6 Klay”, then the recent Warriors dynasty wouldn’t have happened. However, it’s impossible to ignore how crucial of a time it was when Thompson went off in emphatic fashion.
Despite being the defending-champion and then setting the record for most wins in a regular season at 73 – thus earning them the number one seed in the West – Golden State was having trouble in the 2016 Western Conference Finals against the third-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. Led by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant – who was in his final season with the Thunder – OKC was able to earn a split of the first two games of the series in the Bay Area and then won blowouts in games three and four at home.
The Warriors were able to defend homecourt in game five, but still had to get a win at a raucous Chesapeake Energy Arena in order to force a winner-take-all game seven.
Through three quarters, Thompson was having a solid game – 22 points on 8-for-21 from the field and 6-for-12 from outside – but the Warriors trailed 83-75. With their season, and possibly the dynasty on the line, Thompson went berserk in the fourth.
He played all 12 minutes of the final frame, scored 19 of the team’s 33 points, and drilled five out of his six shots from distance. The Warriors won 108-101 and then won game seven, before falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a seven-game NBA Finals.
Whose Record Did Thompson Break?
With the number of three-point attempts growing exponentially seemingly every season, it’s impressive that Thompson’s record of makes in a playoff game still stands. When Thompson hit his 10th three-pointer of the game against OKC, he surpassed the record of nine, which was held by Jason Terry, Ray Allen, Vince Carter and Rex Chapman.
Allen was the only one to have had hit nine shots from beyond the arc in a postseason game twice, having done so for Milwaukee Bucks in 2001 and Boston Celtics in 2009. Since Thompson’s 11 makes in 2016, five players have reached nine – including Curry twice and Thompson once – and Damian Lillard drilled 10 from deep in the 2019 playoffs.
Still five years later though, Klay Thompson stands alone.