The Golden State Warriors seemed like they might have a bit of trouble on Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Stephen Curry being out after mildly spraining his ankle on Monday, Kyrie Irving playing out of his mind and the Warriors playing in their fourth game in five nights, they had every reason to trip-up.
They did no such thing, though.
Golden State was able to control the game and leave Cleveland with a 108-95 victory. The main reason was the stellar play of Klay Thompson and Curry’s replacement Jarrett Jack.
In Curry’s place, Jack scored 26 points on 61.1 percent shooting and dished out 12 assists throughout the contest. That’s not surprising, though. In his two other starts this season when Curry was injured, Jack averaged 18 points and six assists on 51.6 percent shooting.
However, Thompson put on a much more impressive and important performance than Jack. Thompson finished the night with 32 points, two assists and seven boards, all while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and a blazing 75 percent from downtown.
That couldn’t have come at a better time for the Warriors with Curry not being in the lineup. Coming into the season, Thompson was expected to be a dead-eye shooter to complement Curry and David Lee in the starting lineup.
For the most part though, that hasn’t been the case. Though Thompson has averaged a helpful 16.1 points and four rebounds per game on the season, he’s struggled with his efficiency. The second-year guard is shooting only 40.7 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from three-point range on the season.
The three-point percentage is still pretty solid, but both percentages have dropped-off from the 44.3 percent field goal shooting and 41.4 three-point percentages that Thompson put up in his rookie season.
So for him to come out and light up the Cavs the way he did on Tuesday night was not only welcomed in Curry’s absence, but also in the context of Golden State’s season.
Another thing that Jack and Thompson were able to do is, for the most part, shut down Irving, who had scored over 30 points in his previous three games. The Warriors duo held him to 14 points on 29.4 percent shooting and limited him to four assists on the evening.
Not only were they able to do it tonight, but their improved defense is largely indicative of why Golden State is such an improved team this season and is sitting at 28-17 now for the season. They aren’t getting torched by everyone they play, which allows their high-powered offense to take over.
Thompson and Jack were huge in the Warriors effort tonight. They both contributed in limiting Irving and his production, which allowed their potent offensive games to thrive on the night. Though, Curry will likely return soon, it’s a positive thing for Golden State to see that his replacement and backcourt-mate can perform and carry the team without him.