NBA Finals: Warriors' Klay Thompson 'encouraged' he'll play in Game 3

Matt Schneidman
The Mercury News
Golden State's Klay Thompson sits on the bench during Tuesday's practice.

Oakland, Calif. — Klay Thompson is officially listed as questionable for Game 3 of the NBA Finals due to left hamstring tightness, but he said Tuesday it’s hard to envision a scenario in which he doesn’t play on Wednesday night.

Thompson suffered his injury in the fourth quarter of Game 2 on Sunday night in Toronto when he landed awkwardly after a 3-point attempt. Thompson anticipated contact from Danny Green, thus landing with his legs spread wide apart. He fell to a sitting position and immediately grabbed at his left hamstring.

Thompson stayed in the game for more than two minutes, but after Quinn Cook hit a 3 with 8:17 left to put the Warriors up 10, Thompson limped back down the court while pleading for someone to foul so play stopped. The Warriors didn’t foul, and Thompson was visibly frustrated with his teammates after Serge Ibaka hit a wide-open 3 because of it. The Warriors finally called timeout after Ibaka’s 3, and Thompson sat at the end of the bench before retreating to the locker room for the rest of the game.

“I anticipated getting hit, which I probably shouldn’t have done. I landed awkwardly, just kind of tweaked my hamstring,” Thompson said. “When you’re moving, it’s all good. But right when you stop moving around, it just really tightened up on me like a knot and I couldn’t really get any full motion anymore. So I called to come out of the game because I literally couldn’t run like I’m used to. It sucked. But like I said before, the progress I made these last couple days is very encouraging. And if it continues, I look forward to playing tomorrow night.”

Thompson scored 25 points in Game 2, most on the Warriors despite missing the final 7:59, shooting 10-of-17 from the field and 4-of-6 from deep to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Thompson has started all 120 playoff games in which he’s played over his career, but that streak is in jeopardy of not reaching 121 when the Warriors and Raptors tip off at 9 p.m. Wednesday with the NBA Finals tied at one game apiece.

“Obviously I would do anything I can to be out there, but it’s all in their hands,” Thompson said. “If there’s any pain, it will be a no-go just because of the position we’re in. This could be a longer series, so there’s no point in trying to go out there and re-aggravate it and potentially keep myself out of the whole entire Finals instead of just one game. So like I said, it will be a game-time decision. But I really want to be out there.”

In other words, Thompson would be a sure start if the Warriors trailed in the series, or if they had a chance to clinch.

So what would sideline Thompson for Game 3? Any pain? Moderate pain? Anything besides severe pain?

According to Thompson, he only feels pain when he “stops on a dime” or “makes hard cuts.” He feels comfortable playing if he only feels pain on a couple moves, which currently describes what he’s experiencing, and far less comfortable playing if he feels it on every move. Thompson called his occasional pain “very encouraging” in terms of being on track to play Wednesday night.

In the 30 minutes of Warriors practice open to media on Tuesday, Thompson shot from both a set position and on the move.

“He says he’s feeling well and that he’s feeling a lot better today than he did yesterday and he thinks he’ll be ready to go, but as I said the other night, Klay is always going to say he’s ready to go,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “What we’ll have to determine is, is that a risk? If he plays, are we risking anything? If the training staff feels good about his ability to go out there and play without making things worse, then he’ll play. But if there’s a risk, we would rather give him the next couple of days to continue to heal and hopefully have him out there for Game 4.”

Thompson said his sprained ankle in Game 1 of last year’s Finals put him in “much worse” physical condition than he’s in now. After that injury, Thompson started Game 2 less than three days later. That, he thinks, is a good sign this time around.

“Oh, it’s much better than it was Sunday night,” Thompson said Tuesday of his hamstring. “So hopefully the same progress will be made and I’ll be moving like my normal self tomorrow. But the pain level wasn’t too crazy at all.”

Thompson said he can be effective even at 80% health. He likely won’t reach 100% before Game 3, but the question remains where the cutoff lies that would sideline the ironman for the first time in his postseason career.

“Something’s got to give. It’s the NBA Finals, and we’re putting our bodies on the line every game,” Thompson said. “That’s just the nature of our business, injuries. And obviously we have such a great training staff that they’re closing that risk of window for me by the hour. From the progress I’ve made these last two days, I’m very encouraged that I’ll be able to go out there tomorrow night.”

NBA Finals

Golden State vs. Toronto

Series tied 1-1

(Best-of-7; x-if necessary)

All games on ABC

Game 1: Toronto 118-109

Game 2: Golden State 109-104

Wednesday: at Golden State, 9

Friday: at Golden State, 9

Monday, June 10: at Toronto, 9

x-Thursday, June 13: at Golden State, 9

x-Sunday, June 16: at Toronto, 8