How Klay Thompson fouling out changed Game 1
In the midst of the Spurs’ 18-2 run to force overtime in San Antonio’s 129-127 Game 1 win over the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson’s absence loomed large. Thompson fouled out at the 3:57 mark of the fourth quarter when the Warriors held a 104-89 lead over the Spurs. Thompson finished with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting and five rebounds.
To that point, Tony Parker was practically a defensive liability for the Spurs. It seemed like whoever they put him on, the Warriors would force feed that player the ball and he would score. Jarrett Jack was the only player San Antonio could really hide Parker on. Thompson, Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes would just rise up over Parker and get a good look at the basket. And with as good of shooters as Curry and Thompson are, a good look is all they need.
When Thompson fouled out, the Spurs were able to keep Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green on Curry and Barnes defensively. Thought fatigue could’ve played a factor, Curry (who played all but four seconds in this game) shot 2-for-9 from the field for just six points after Thompson fouled out.
What might’ve been more of a key to the Spurs stealing Game 1 was the effect on San Antonio offensively when Thompson fouled out. The Warriors had success for stretches earlier in the season when they put the length of the 6’7″ on Parker. With Thompson hounding Parker in Game 1, the Spurs’ point guard scored 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the floor (26.7 percent).
Parker didn’t find trouble getting into the lane against Thompson, but when there Parker was unable to create the separation he normally does against smaller players. Clean looks were hard to come by and Parker grew frustrated by what he felt was excessive contact from the Golden State defenders.
After Thompson picked up his six foul with just under four minutes left, Parker was free to find his shot. TP went on to score 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting in the remainder of the fourth quarter and both overtime periods.
I didn’t watch the TNT broadcast of Monday night’s Game 1, but TNT analyst Chris Webber reportedly said “luckily, they don’t need him anymore” when Thompson fouled out of Game 1. You can’t blame Webber for thinking ahead, I’m sure pretty much everyone watching agreed with him. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Webber couldn’t have been more wrong.
Play-by-play data courtesy of NBA.com/Stats