With a hard-fought Game 5 win in Toronto, the Golden State Warriors and their dynasty live to fight another day.
The 2019 Finals now shifts back to Oakland for the final game ever at Oracle Arena.
Can the battered and bruised two-time reigning champions win one in front of their home crowd without Kevin Durant and force a Game 7 back in Toronto?
In the Steve Kerr era, which dates back to the 2014-15 season when the Warriors made their first of what’s now five straight trips to the Finals, Golden State has only trailed 3-2 in a series twice – the 2016 Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the 2018 Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets.
In Game 6 in both of those series, Klay Thompson caught fire to breathe new life into the Warriors.
Here’s a look back at Thompson’s epic Game 6 performances.
2016 Conference Finals
Down 3-2, the Warriors needed to win at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to force a Game 7 back at Oracle Arena.
In the two previous road games in that series, the Warriors had been pummeled, losing Games 3 and 4 by a combined 52 points.
With the Warriors on life support against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Thompson delivered a game for the ages.
He knocked down an NBA playoff record 11 3-pointers en route to scoring a game-high 41 points. He poured in 19 points in the fourth quarter and personally outscored the Thunder 10-7 down the stretch as part of Golden State’s game-ending 21-7 run over the final 5:33.
“Steph told me before I went out in the fourth, `This is your time,” Thompson said. “`You know, put on a show out there and have fun.’ I took those words to heart, and I just tried to be aggressive.”
2018 Conference Finals
The Warriors clinched the 2017 NBA title by going on a dominating 16-1 run in the 2017 playoffs.
It was more competitive in 2018, especially in the Conference Finals.
The Houston Rockets team they squared off against in that series was constructed to dethrone the Dubs. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been on the record acknowledging that the entire franchise was obsessed with beating Golden State and that the entire roster was built specifically with the intent of taking down the champs.
Had it not been for Thompson, they would have pulled it off.
Needing a Game 6 win at home to force a Game 7 back in Houston, the Warriors once again turned to Thompson.
With his team trailing 39-22 after the first quarter, Thompson drained a 3-pointer 11 seconds into the second period to ignite a furious rally. Thompson was the game’s leading scorer in the second (10), third (12) and fourth quarter (9) and finished with 35 points, the most on either team in a game three MVPs in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and James Harden. He shot an efficient 13-23 from the field including 9-14 from beyond the arc while also adding four steals on the other end of the floor.
The Warriors would go on to win Game 7 before sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers to claim their third title in four years.
2019 Conference Semifinals
In Game 6 of the 2019 Conference Semifinals on the road in Houston, the Warriors led 3-2 but were 7.5-point underdogs as Kevin Durant was ruled out after injurying his right calf in Game 5.
Playing without the two-time reigning Finals MVP, the Warriors yet again leaned on Thompson to keep them in the game.
Though Stephen Curry finished with a game-high 33 points, he was terrible in the first half as he went scoreless on 0-5 shooting.
Somehow, the game was tied.
Why? The other Splash Brother.
Thompson poured in 21 of his 27 points in the first half, keeping the Warriors close and buying enough time for Curry to snap out of his funk. In a game that many experts gave them no shot to win, the Warriors came out on top thanks to Thompson’s first-half heroics.
Looking ahead to Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors, the Warriors are underdogs once again after losing KD.
Will we see another Game 6 masterpiece by Klay? We’re about to find out.