Golden State Warriors fans will be happy to hear that one of their sidelined stars is expected to return to action tonight in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Klay Thompson, who left Game 2 early in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury, appears to be in-line to start and play his normal allotment of minutes.
Thompson was very vocal, leading into Wednesday night's Game 3, stating how much he wanted to play and downplaying the extent of his injured hamstring. As coach Steve Kerr so eloquently put it, Klay would probably say he was good to go even in the event that he was half-dead. Although the All-Star guard would have liked to be out there with his teammates, the Golden State medical staff and front office decided not to take a chance by throwing him out there too early.
While the Warriors have been playing admirably in the absence of Kevin Durant, going 6-1 in the first seven games without their All-NBA forward, losing Klay proved to be too much of a disadvantage against a fully healthy Toronto Raptor squad. Thompson's contributions on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball were desperately missed, as the Raptors pretty much cruised to victory, holding relatively comfortable leads throughout the contest.
Klay's return will provide a shot in the arm for a team that looked down right exhausted, and, at times, powerless to stop the Raptors from getting anything they wanted on offense. The floor should open up, as Toronto will have to respect both of the Splash Brothers' sharpshooting abilities, allowing Golden State to utilize their passing, cutting, and screening talents to their fullest.
Kevin Durant, on the other hand, is still without a definite timetable for return. ESPN.com reports that coach Kerr is waiting for the team's medical staff to determine when their star is ready to play:
"It's just about when the training staff tells me he's ready," Kerr said. "He's been doing individual work on the court. He's been in the training room, in the weight room. He's been doing lots of different things. Training staff said he's not ready to play in a game yet, so that's all."
As for center Kevon Looney, who had previously been ruled out for the remainder of the series, there appears to be a chance he could return to Finals action. ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported that further evaluation led to the conclusion that Looney could possibly return before the end of the series:
"After undergoing further evaluation of the non-displaced first costal cartilage fracture he suffered in Game 2, Golden State Warriors forward Kevon Looney could potentially return during the NBA Finals.
More testing will determine Looney's next steps and whether he does, in fact, make a return to the league's championship round.
'We're gathering information. Second opinion type thing. Sort of open, it's an open question as we gather information,' Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday."
One important detail for Dubs fans to remember: Consider how the Warriors hung around in Game 3. Now think about what that would look like with Klay Thompson on the floor. Even further, imagine what adding KD would do to the equation. Golden State is still very much alive, and they are coming for the Raptors, as their stars begin to return to action.