“It was fun while it lasted,” any loyal Golden State Warriors fan may remark after the team’s heartbreaking Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
There was no angry diatribe against Jordan Poole’s useless life, no profanity-laced assault on the terrible officiating, just the calm, inconspicuous thought: It is what it is. That’s all there was to it.
And what it was was a 4-2 series defeat to a team that was more athletic, consistent, and cohesive than they were, a series that concluded in a difficult-to-watch Game 6 that the Warriors couldn’t control.
Steph Curry’s heart spilled all over the Crypto.com Arena court. Golden State’s role players provided until they couldn’t give any more, at least not under these must-win conditions. The Warriors’ series against the Lakers was like a pressure cooker, with steam building, tensions tightening, and the faintest glimmer of hope still igniting Golden State’s flame until… it was all gone.
There was no dramatic ending to this series, no flashing siren for top-down adjustments as there was in the Suns’ awful loss to the Nuggets. Instead, there was just the faint “poof” of a faraway dream and two thoughts: It was great while it lasted. And we could have beaten them if we had been flawless.
These Warriors athletes, on the other hand, were far from ideal. If you must, here are three individuals to blame.
Warriors are to blame for their early elimination from the playoffs: Thompson, Klay
Klay Thompson will no longer be referred to as Game 6. Klay. Game 6 Klay is no longer alive. Now it’s just Klay.
Thompson finished the game with just eight points. He shot 3-of-19 from the field and 2-of-12 from beyond the arc; those aren’t great stats, but if you’ve been following his play throughout the series, you’d know they aren’t an exception.
The Lakers set out from the outset to contain Klay, and their defensive approach, along with Thompson’s streaky form, reduced the Splash Brother to simply a Brother.
Thompson was 10-for-36 from 3-point range over the following three games after almost establishing a record with 30 points and eight 3s in Game 2.
On a number of open looks on Friday, he hit the glass, rim, and everything except the net, and it goes without saying that the atmosphere would have been considerably different if he had made some of those shots. Thompson was -33 in Game 6, his poorest game of the series, as his defensive game dropped with his offensive game.
Whereas Steph Curry has been able to vary his offensive performance throughout the years by drawing fouls in the paint and getting to the free-throw line when his 3-point shooting is off, Thompson’s shot selection makes fans – and Steve Kerr – grimace.
According to ESPN’s J.J. Redick, one of the reasons Thompson hasn’t looked like himself this season is that the Warriors’ choice to run with a pick-and-roll offence with Curry on the court may have harmed Thompson the most.
Thompson, on the other hand, never reached his flow state in this series. Injuries often alter athletes, and expecting him to be as brilliant as he once was is just ridiculous. But maybe he might have been…. a bit less bad?