OAKLAND — Rather than risk him aggravating his hamstring injury in what the Warriors see as a long series, Klay Thompson will sit out Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Thompson was listed as active but the team made it official less than 30 minutes before tip-off at Oracle Arena in a series tied 1-1.
Thompson joins Kevin Durant (calf strain) and Kevon Looney (fractured collar bone) on the bench, challenging the Warriors rotations and depth against an elite Toronto squad. Also, Andre Iguodala is playing through leg pain, Stephen Curry still has his fingered taped from a sprain suffered last round, and DaMarcus Cousins just returned from a torn quadriceps.
Thompson pushed to play, coach Steve Kerr said pregame, but he was eventually overruled.
“He’s making a very strong case. That’s who Klay is…” Kerr said before the game. “But he’s trying desperately to be out on the floor tonight, and we’ll have to weigh all the factors and make the decision. We probably won’t let him make the decision.”
The respect the Warriors have for the Raptors — and how long this series will be — plays into the decision, something Kerr emphasized.
“To cut right to the core of it, it’s still early in the series, so if there’s risk, then we won’t play him,” Kerr said.
“If there’s any pain, it will be a no-go just because of the position we’re in,” Thompson said the previous day. “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.”
Thompson will be missed on offense — he had 25 points before leaving Game 2 with 7:59 — but maybe more on defense, where he had been assigned Kawhi Leonard for the second half of Game 2, setting up rotations that worked for the Warriors.
“He’s one of the best two-way players in the league,” Kerr said of Thompson. “That’s true in the regular season, it’s especially true in the playoffs.”
It also puts some pressure on the Raptors — they can’t let opportunities like this slide by. Losing this game to a shorthanded Warriors would be disheartening.