OAKLAND, Calif. — Draymond Green saw Klay Thompson limping on his tender left ankle a day before Game 2 of the NBA Finals and quickly texted Nick Young to tell him the Golden State Warriors would need big minutes from the backup.
But Golden State's most durable player and understated star once again managed to play through the pain and scored 20 points to help the Warriors beat Cleveland 122-103 to take a 2-0 series lead Sunday night.
"He came out there and gutted through it," Green said. "Even if you saw him take the first lay-up he took in warmups and ran back to the locker room. It's like he's not going to have it. Sure enough he did. I mean, that's just a microcosm of who he is, one of the toughest guys if not the toughest guy I've ever played with. He'll never get credit for it because he's not going to physically beat you up. But one of the toughest, if not the toughest guy for sure."
Green might be the loudest of Golden State's four superstars and Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are the most accomplished. Thompson often flies a bit under the radar, just delivering lockdown defense and long-range shooting that help the Warriors thrive.
He's so consistent and always available, having played in a franchise record 100 playoff games without missing a single one, that he sometimes gets overlooked. But after Cleveland's J.R. Smith awkwardly fell into his left leg in the first half of Game 1, sending Thompson to the locker room following the scary fall, there has been plenty of focus on if he'd be able to play.
He made it back for the rest of Game 1 and scored 24 points in a 124-114 overtime win Thursday before the injury got worse the next day. But he still managed to play in Game 2 and shot 8 for 13, making three 3-pointers to become the sixth player with 300 in a career in the playoffs.
"Being on the training table for, it felt like, three straight days. That's something I'm not used to," Thompson said. "But at this point in the season, any means necessary. And the ankle feels great. I won't do much tomorrow and I'll do a little bit Tuesday. But I'm just going to conserve all I've got for Wednesday because I don't want to play with it. It's something that you use a lot. I didn't realize how much you use your ankle until you hurt it ..."
That drew a quick quip from Curry, who has been plagued by ankle injuries throughout his career.
"You should have asked me," Curry said.