What the Warriors can do to fix the Klay Thompson problem

Signs of Klay Thompson’s decline are subtle: slow closing here, leap off rhythm there, frustrated facial expressions at times.

The Golden State Warriors may not want to discuss it because they are happy just to have him back on the ground after missing over two and a half years to injuries, but they know Thompson is not the same player he was before his AFC Champions League rupture. The Achilles tendon is torn. Anyone who watched the first two games of the NBA Finals can watch an all-five star try to overcome his sudden physical limitations.

Unable to jump to jump as before, Thompson burst into a shooting motion. In defense, he always took a slow stride, even when he met top complimenting men instead of high-scoring wingers.

Such flaws, once easy to overlook, are now stark – not only because a formidable opponent like the Celtics tend to expose player flaws, but because Warriors need the old version of Thompson more than ever. Jordan Paul has seemed overwhelmed by the physicality of Boston, and Andrew Wiggins has a huge defensive responsibility to be a reliable goal-scoring option.

All of this put an even greater strain on Stephen Curry, who is responding as expected. In the third quarter of Game 2, Sunday night, after Thompson and Paul went together 2 for 13 from the field (1 for 6 from a 3-point range) in the first half, Curry scored 14 of his game-high 29 points to push the Warriors’ two-point lead to a cushion of 23 a point.

During his post-game press conference, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr went so far as to describe Curry’s timely outburst as “breathtaking” – a trait Curry may deserve more than any other player in the NBA. But Carrie is still human. Without the proper support from Thompson, he may struggle to lift the Warriors beyond the Celtics.

What makes Thompson and Curry such a special backcourt duo is that they both have complementary skill sets. When Thompson scrapes screens, knocks down jumpers, and posts flashy totals with minimal dodges, it becomes nearly impossible to stop Curry.

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