Saturday, February 2 at 8:30 PM ET
The Golden State Warriors host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night and while most of the attention will be on James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the one player that can make a difference and help the Warriors avenge their 125-101 home loss to the Lakers on December 25 is Klay Thompson.
Warriors missed Klay Thompson against 76ers
Klay Thompson should get a max-value contract from the Warriors or another team this offseason, those who suggest he's not a "true max player' should watch a replay of the Warriors' 113-104 home loss against the 76ers last Thursday.
Thompson didn't play due to illness and it was clear that the now five-time All-Star was missed. Many factors led to Golden State's 11-game winning streak being snapped but Thompson's absence cost them.
The Warriors made 11 3-pointers (10 by Stephen Curry), one fewer than a 76ers team that ranks 14th in the league, attempting 31.8 3-point shots per game.
Had Thompson played, he would have made key shots in the final five minutes of the game and that could have been the difference. His shooting would have sparked a Warriors offense that was stagnant and uninspired for extended periods of time in the second half.
Golden State missed Thompson even more on the defensive end, they only had Draymond Green as a top defender to mark Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler and he spent most of his time guarding Butler, leaving Simmons with Alfonzo McKinnie, who played well but let's face it, he's not on Thompson's level. It also didn't help matters that Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston combined for two points on 1 of 4 shooting.
Klay Thompson has defended some of the best players in the NBA for years and he would have loved to have a chance to take on Ben Simmons, who would have needed to work a lot harder for his 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists. A couple of 3-point shots for Klay Thompson and a less efficient night for Ben Simmons would have been the difference in this game, which proves that Thompson is not a replaceable system player.
The Los Angeles Lakers are:
5-14-1 ATS in their last 20 games following an ATS win
1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning percentage above .600
The Golden State Warriors are:
4-0 ATS in their last four games playing on 1 days rest
5-1 ATS in their last six games against a team with a winning straight up record
5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss
5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game
5-2-1 ATS in their last eight games overall
The Lakers rank 13th in the NBA in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to make 34.8 percent of their 3-point attempts and the last time these two teams met, Klay Thomson tied a league-record by making his first 10 attempts from 3-point range and scored 44 points in a 130-111 road win on January 21.
Thompson finished 10-for-11 from beyond the arc and 17-for-20 overall. The star guard exploded for 23 points in the third quarter, connecting on seven 3-point shots and the Warriors were 16-for-37 from distance.
LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball didn't play in the game and although James and Rondo will be available on Saturday, I still like the Warriors to roll behind Thompson, putting behind Thursday's loss against the 76ers and getting some payback for the December 25 setback the last time they hosted Los Angeles.
NBA Pick: Warriors at Jazz Sports if Klay Thompson plays
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzsportsON