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Klay Thompson’s Fix for His Shooting Woes? Unearthing His Alter Ego.


BOSTON — Klay Thompson might as well have spent Game 2 of the N.B.A. finals on Sunday launching the ball straight into swirling winds. His field-goal attempts veered left and right, fell short and carried long.

Afterward, knowing Golden State would wish him to be more productive as its series with the Celtics continued, Thompson sought to remind himself that he was good at basketball. So he fired up a laptop and watched old clips of a well-recognized figure: himself.

“I remember being in college,” he said, “and while you’d undergo a shooting slump, the video guys would pull up an important game when all the things seemed in unison, and your body was working so well that the ball was just flowing off your fingertips.”

All Thompson needed to do, he said, was seek for “Game 6 Klay” on YouTube, and various high-profile reminders of his long-range acumen were available to him. Most recently, he scored 30 points and made 8 of 14 3-point attempts in Golden State’s Game 6 win over the Memphis Grizzlies last month to shut out their Western Conference semifinal series. He also famously scored 41 points, in a performance that included making 11 of his 18 3-pointers, in 2016 in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“There have been some very high-pressurized situations I used to be in, and I ended up shooting the ball well,” he said. “When you’ll be able to do it when your back is against the wall, you’ll be able to do it at any given moment. It’s nearly keeping that mental strong.”

If nothing else, Thompson is conversant in keeping, as he put it, that mental strong. His celebrated comeback after missing two full seasons due to injuries has culminated in one other trip to the finals, his sixth with Golden State. But he was clearly disillusioned along with his effort in Game 2 against Boston, as he shot 4 of 19 from the sector and finished with 11 points. On the brilliant side, he said, the Warriors drubbed the Celtics to tie the series ahead of Game 3 on Wednesday night in Boston.

“It feels good going 4 for 19 and winning by 20,” said Thompson, referring to Golden State’s 107-88 win. “I’d moderately do this than go 13 for 19 and lose by 10. Been there, and that’s never fun.”

On Tuesday, Thompson arrived for his news conference wearing one sneaker while he worked to suit the opposite with an insole. He was, in his own way, a piece in progress, and that has been the case since January, when he was finally back in uniform after a 941-day absence. In 32 regular-season games, he shot a career-low 38.5 percent from 3-point range, but he offered flashes of his familiar greatness, and his mere presence on the perimeter helped create more room for teammates like Stephen Curry.

It has been more of the identical for Thompson within the playoffs: some good, some great, some bad. His inconsistency mustn’t be surprising given how long he was gone. His left knee and his right Achilles’ tendon are surgically repaired, so there have been at all times going to be ups and downs as he sought to regain his rhythm and his conditioning. His teammates don’t seem concerned.

“When you saw him now, you’d think he’s averaging 50 on this series,” Curry said. “He’s got a really confident look about him. That’s one of the best thing about him. It’s all concerning the work you set in. It’s concerning the mind-set.”

On Sunday, Thompson had a little bit of a special look. He missed 9 of his first 10 field-goal attempts before he made a 3-pointer early within the third quarter that put Golden State ahead, 59-52. He pumped his fists, but was soon muttering to himself and shaking his head.

“Once I watched the film, I probably seemed just a little rushed,” he said. “I wasn’t underneath my shot.”

Whilst the rating grew more lopsided, Golden State Coach Steve Kerr left Thompson in the sport against Boston’s reserves. But moderately than unearth some confidence, Thompson missed his final 4 shots.

“I feel he’s just pressing just a little bit,” Kerr said. “He just wants so badly to do well that he’s taking some bad ones. I’m not particularly concerned about it because this isn’t the primary time it’s happened. Klay has a way of responding to mini-slumps or whatever you wish to call them.”

Thompson thought back to this yr’s Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks. Over the primary 4 games of the series, he shot just 29.2 percent from 3-point range. In Game 5, he scored 32 points and shot 8 of 16 from 3-point range to assist eliminate Dallas.

“I stuck to the method,” he said, “and eventually I blew the lid off.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s game against Boston, Kerr said some extent of emphasis could be to ensure that that Thompson got some attractiveness early that were in rhythm.

As for Thompson’s film study — which he apparently tries to be discreet about — Golden State’s Draymond Green said he had not caught Thompson watching old clips of himself on YouTube.

“The fact is, if I did, we’d probably make fun of him,” Green said. “So it’s probably good that I haven’t.”

To be fair, Thompson doesn’t have much trouble staying grounded on his own. On Tuesday, he recalled where he was a couple of yr ago: figuring out in an empty arena with Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine and performance.

“To be back here on this stage,” Thompson said, “you’ve just got to remind yourself to maintain working since it’s a blessing and really an honor to be here.”

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