Game 6 of the much-anticipated Rockets-Warriors series felt like 2016 again. Golden State was without Kevin Durant or DeMarcus Cousins but still had a chance to close out the series on their rival’s floor. Naturally, they leaned on the back court that brought them to prominence in the first place. When the Warriors needed them most, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson came up huge and put the Rockets away by the score of 118-113. Is anyone surprised?
Curry’s performance was legacy-building, and will be brought up decades from now when we discuss the all-time great players of this generations. After scoring exactly zero points in the first half and clearly struggling with his injured finger, he came out blazing hot in the second half and ended with 33 points. He shrugged off the pain and his slump, knowing his team would only win with a heroic effort on his part, and he delivered. It takes a special kind of mental toughness to pull that off in any game, much less a closeout playoff game against a team constructed specifically to beat him, in their own arena. It’s the type of performance truly great players have.
Thompson, meanwhile, kept the Warriors afloat in the first half with 21 points after struggling mightily throughout the series. At this point, we all need to recognize that, similar to Playoff LeBron or Playoff Kawhi, Game 6 Klay Thompson is a real thing. He single-handedly took down the Thunder in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals with 41 points (and may have brought Durant to Golden State in the process), scored 35 to hold off the Rockets in Game 6 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals, and topped it off with 27 points to eliminate Houston on Friday night, including a huge steal with just over a minute left and a contested three with 34 seconds left that put the game away. Thompson is unheralded relative to his two Hall of Fame teammates, but he proved to the world once again that he is as irreplaceable as any other member of the Warriors.
The expectation is the Warriors will win, but it doesn’t make last night’s victory any less impressive. Golden State’s bench gave them virtually no production over the series, and their stars logged big minutes as a result. Despite the exhaustion and the pressure of playing in enemy territory, the Splash Bros simply made their shots when they absolutely had to. Game 6 was the story of just how big the gap is between a very good team and a championship team. Houston is a very good team, but the Warriors came into the building with the intention of ending the series then and there, and would not be stopped.