(KRON) – The Golden State Warriors have a chance to win their fourth NBA title in eight seasons on Thursday when they play Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Boston. Fortunately for Golden State, Game 6 is Klay Thompson’s favorite.
According to the sports statistics website StatMuse, Thompson has made a whopping 50 percent of his 3-pointers in Game 6s. He is also averaging better than 28 points per game over his last seven Game 6s. His memorable performances at this juncture of a series have earned him the nickname “Game 6 Klay.”
“I realize I’m on a really good streak right now of Game 6s… It’s obviously a nickname I’ve earned,” Thompson said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The legend of Game 6 Klay dates back to 2016, when the Warriors found themselves at the brink of elimination after setting an NBA record with 73 wins in the regular season. The Oklahoma City Thunder, led by future Warrior Kevin Durant, had leapt out to a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. After fending off elimination in Game 5, the Warriors did so again in Game 6, thanks to a superhuman performance from Thompson.
In front of a hostile Oklahoma City crowd, the Washington State product poured in 41 points and 11 3-pointers – then an NBA record for a playoff game. Oklahoma City led for much of the fourth quarter, but Thompson kept the Warriors close with 3-pointer after 3-pointer, finally giving the Dubs a lead on a transition long-ball with 1:36 left in the game.
Warriors fans know how this story ends. The team blew a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, failing to finish off their historic season with a championship. Still, Thompson managed 25 points in a Game 6 loss in Cleveland.
But Game 6s weren’t always this easy for Thompson. He played in five Game 6s before that famous eruption in Oklahoma City, and scored more than 10 points just once.
When the Warriors won their first title of the Splash Brothers era in 2015, Thompson fouled out after 24 minutes in Game 6 against Cleveland. The ABC broadcast showed him smiling on the bench like a student who received an “A” on a group project despite not contributing any work.
After the 2016 finals, the team acquired Kevin Durant and did not see a Game 6 again until two seasons later – sailing through the 2017 postseason with a 16-1 record. But in 2018 the Warriors found themselves nearing elimination again, this time at the hands of the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets took a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals and found themselves one win away from doing what seemed impossible – knocking off a Warriors team featuring Stephen Curry, Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green. But Game 6 Klay would not let it happen. Thompson splashed nine 3-pointers, scored 35 points and nabbed four steals, helping Golden State rout the Rockets 115-86 en route to a second-straight title.
A season later, he helped the Warriors drown the Rockets again in Game 6, making seven 3-balls and scoring 27 points. He appeared to be on his way to another Game 6 classic in that year’s finals against the Toronto Raptors, scoring 30 points in 32 minutes before blowing out his knee in the third quarter.
Even after tearing his ACL, Thompson provided one more classic Game 6 moment. After he was helped into the tunnel, Klay came back out on the floor and sank two free throws before checking out for good. Warriors fans would not see him back on the floor until 30 months had passed.
Even after two brutal injuries that cost him years of his prime, Game 6 Klay prevailed. In his first Game 6 since coming back from the injuries, Thompson picked up where he left off, posting 30 points, eight rebounds and eight 3-pointers as the Warriors bounced the Memphis Grizzlies from the playoffs.
Now, with another huge Game 6 looming tomorrow, the Warriors hope to get one more Game 6 Klay classic. But while he is aware of the trend, Thompson said he won’t try to force things ahead of Thursday’s Game 6.
“The main goal is just to win one game,” he said. “So I don’t want to put any extra pressure on myself to live up to my name. I just want to go out there and play free, trust my teammates and I know great things will happen if I do those two things.”