The last opponent to have to deal with Klay Thompson on the court will see him once again on the sidelines when the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors continue their rivalry Sunday night in San Francisco.
Thompson was attempting to add to a 28-point personal scoring line and a three-point Warriors lead when he was fouled by Toronto’s Danny Green on a dunk attempt with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter of Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
The Warriors, playing at home, were down 3-2 in the series and had lost Kevin Durant to a series-ending Achilles injury in the previous game in Toronto.
Despite being in serious pain, Thompson limped to the free-throw line and made both foul shots, putting Golden State up 85-80 with his 29th and 30th points, before being helped to the locker room and eventually to the hospital, where he had ACL surgery that cost him the 2020 season.
The five-time All-Star appeared set to return last season, but ruptured his Achilles while completing his ACL rehab and hasn’t played since.
The 31-year-old has recently returned to practice and, coincidentally, is expected to see his first game action in over 30 months at right about the same time the Warriors play at Toronto on Dec. 18.
Without Durant and Thompson, Golden State went on to lose Game 6 to the Raptors 114-110, thus getting denied what could have been a fourth title in five seasons.
The Warriors and Raptors have met three times since — all with Thompson as a spectator — with Toronto winning twice, including 130-77 in the most recent head-to-head last April in Toronto.
Both teams enter Sunday’s rematch in decent shape to make another run at the Finals.
With Stephen Curry leading the league in scoring at 29.5 points per game, the Warriors have compiled the best record in the NBA at 14-2. They won the last three in a four-game trip that ended Friday in Detroit.
The Raptors, meanwhile, have overcome numerous injuries and a tough early schedule to open 8-9. They are coming off a 108-89 win at Sacramento on Friday after tipping off a six-game trip with losses at Portland and Utah.
Pascal Siakam, who missed the first 10 games of the season while finalizing his rehab after offseason shoulder surgery, paced the win over the Kings with a season-best 32 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
Siakam had been criticized for a 2-for-14, four-turnover outing the night before against the Jazz.
“You gotta have a short memory here in this league,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse noted. “I know it’s not easy to have a tough game like (the one at Utah), but you’re not going to play great every night. And when you don’t have a good game, you’ve got to bounce back and you’ve got to do it with some assertiveness and some belief.”
The Warriors did that on their just completed trip, rebounding from an opening loss at Charlotte with a 117-99 blowout win over one of the top teams in the East, the Brooklyn Nets.
A meeting with the Raptors means Jonathan Kuminga, the seventh pick of the July draft for Golden State, gets a shot at the guy taken three spots ahead of him, Scottie Barnes, who is averaging 14.9 points in 15 games.
While Barnes got thrust immediately into the Toronto starting lineup on Opening Night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has scripted a more conservative plan for his 19-year-old.
“The main focus for Jonathan is to rebound and defend,” Kerr explained. “He just needs to lock into those things. Sometimes he’ll fall into some free throws because of his athleticism. Knocked those down (4-for-4 Friday against Detroit), which is great.”
Kuminga is averaging 3.6 points in 10 games.
–Field Level Media