Just under six years ago, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a legend was born.
Klay Thompson made a record 11 three-pointers in a series-tying 108-101 win over the Thunder — and with it came the inception of ‘Game 6 Klay’.
That when the Warriors needed him most deep into playoff series, Thompson would step up and deliver.
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So, naturally, the Golden State sharpshooter came up clutch once again for the Warriors in a 110-96 win to seal the series against a resilient Memphis Grizzlies side.
The Warriors will now play either the Phoenix Suns or Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.
Thompson finished the game with 30 points while Steph Curry had 29 points with a few crucial late 3-pointers to help the Warriors home.
Kevon Looney and Draymond Green destroyed the Grizzlies on the boards, combining for 38 rebounds — six fewer than the entire Memphis line-up.
Memphis had done well to force Game 6 without Ja Morant, coming off a dominant 134-95 win. But that victory came at home and this time the Grizzlies had to travel to Chase Center.
The warriors were not without injuries of their own though, missing Otto Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala and Gary Paton III.
It meant that the Grizzlies had more than a chance of forcing Game 7 and only trailed 30-26 after the first quarterer despite an early statement from Thompson.
He had 11 points by that point while Looney already had 11 rebounds for the Warriors.
Turnovers though proved an issue for Golden State, with six in the first quarter as Dillon Brooks (12 points) kept Memphis in it.
Thompson (17) and Brooks (18) stayed the top scorers by halftime as the Warriors led 53-51 while Green had a handy eight points to go with just as many rebounds.
The biggest challenge for Golden State though remained limiting the turnovers, having conceded 8-0, 7-0 and 12-0 runs in the first half as Memphis kept in touch.
“We’ve got to slow down. The back door isn’t open… we’ve got to be patient,” Warriors acting head coach Mike Brown said on the turnovers.
The Warriors still held a slender 77-76 lead after the third quarter, with Thompson and Green (37 points) almost outscoring the rest of the Golden State line-up (41 points) at that point.
Even Curry was struggling to get going from deep and it wasn’t just him, with Golden State going from shooting 7-for-13 from 3-point land in the first quarter to 8-for-32 since.
Then with seven minutes remaining in the final quarter, a Desmond Bane jumpshot put the Grizzlies in front, only further putting the spotlight back on the Warriors.
Thompson and Green had done their bit, Curry was struggling… so who was going to provide the late spark?
Well, Andrew Wiggins answered that call with a 3-point jumper and dunk in the space of 20 seconds before Curry launched from 3-point land to extend the Golden State lead to 95-89.
There was no stopping the Warriors from that point, with Curry starting to find his rhythm too, and nailed a 31-foot 3-pointer soon as the Golden State pushed further ahead.
Even when Curry was missing, Thompson then stepped up to make a 28-foot jumper from 3-point land as offensive rebounds continued to kill the Grizzlies.
It was all over from there, with Memphis bowing out of the playoffs.
BUCKS BLOW GIANNIS’ BIG NIGHT AS TATUM ERUPTS
Celtics star Jayson Tatum has erupted to force Game 7 in his side’s conference semi-final against the Bucks.
Boston has taken a 108-95 win at the Fiserv Forum, downing Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee.
In 43 minutes on the court, Tatum scored a staggering 46 points, shooting at 53 per cent from the field and 47 per cent from range.
The 24-year-old forward also recorded 9 rebounds and four assists, while guard Jaylen Brown contributed with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Tatum reeled off 11 straight Boston points in the fourth quarter to help thwart a rally by the Bucks, who closed a 13-point deficit to four on Antetokounmpo’s three-pointer early in the final period.
It looked briefly as if the Bucks might author another impressive comeback victory, after erasing a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to win Game 5.
But Tatum and the rest of the Celtics wouldn’t let that happen.
“I think we played with a little more toughness this game,” Tatum said.
“Our season was on the line. I knew that and we knew that. We had to give it all we’ve got.”.
For the Bucks, Giannis had a huge game, but was overshadowed by Tatum’s brilliance.
The ‘Greek freak’ scored a ridiculous 44 points with 20 rebounds and six assists.
Antetokoumpo posted the first 40-point, 20-rebound game since Shaquille O’Neal in 2001, but his third 40-point outburst in four games wasn’t enough for the reigning champs to advance.
They’ll have to battle for a place in the Eastern Conference finals in Boston on Monday [AEST] — the same day that the Milwaukee team beat in last season’s championship series, the Phoenix Suns play the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of their Western Conference series.
Jrue Holiday scored 17 for Milwaukee, who remain without three-time All-Star forward Khris Middleton, who has missed nine games with a sprained left knee.
NBA pundits and fans erupted on Twitter, praising Tatum’s ridiculous performance.