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Is this the last Warriors home game without Klay Thompson?
Draymond Green clears protocols and will rejoin team against Heat
Klay Thompson is my favorite Golden State Warriors player. The laid back skateboarder dude with a sweet outside shot and a Zen attitude won me over quickly. When he went down in the Finals, I almost cried. And it’s not just me, the air went out of the collective lungs of Dub Nation when Thompson got hurt, and only now getting their breath back.
Thompson is currently listed as out, but with another home game on the 9th, and another on the 18th, the current thinking is that the Splash Brother reunion show is about to start. It’s been a long time. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole haven’t played a single minute with Thompson.
That’s about to change.
“I don’t want to sit around anxious and wait for a target date,” Thompson said. “But it should be relatively soon. (Celebrini) will let me know a couple days before, probably.”
Everything is about to change.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (28-7) vs Miami Heat (23-14)
WHEN: Monday, January 3rd, 2022 // 7:00pm PDT
WATCH: NBATV; NBCSBA
The many, dangerous iterations of Warriors’ lineups
On the injury front, Draymond Green has fully cleared Covid protocols and should be rejoining the team for today’s game against the Miami Heat. And it looks like Damion Lee is finally clear as well — he’s been out longer though so no firm word on his availability today.
The Warriors are also fiddling around the edges a bit as well, cutting seldom used two-way player Dowtin and instead using the contract spot on Quinndary Weatherspoon — a guy who slotted into a high profile Christmas day game and held his own.
With the core of the team locked into long-term deals, Golden State has spent the years without Thompson experimenting with a bunch of different players. It’s tough finding value around the margins, but especially important these days as rosters are shuffled and reshuffled daily.
As Daniel Hardee wrote yesterday, the 4th quarter comeback against the Utah Jazz “happened without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Draymond Green on the floor against a Jazz team looking for the kill.” If I’m critical when it’s called for, so too must I heap praise when warranted… and I’m here to heap praise.
Take a look at the Warriors’ offseason. This is a list of guys who were nearly out of the league, players that were fighting injuries and perceptions of ineptitude. Now, they’re starting, or at least playing key rotation minutes. This is a remarkable piece of roster management within a budget.
Remember the ol’ Box+1? It stymied the Warriors offense in the Finals by overloading the defensive focus on Curry. Without the additional players needed to break the zone, it was extremely effective at keeping the shell-shocked Warriors down. Curry has since seen it deployed with some frequency, and it has been painful at times.
Now? Now the Warriors have enough film and preparation to handle the task — but just having a good plan isn’t enough without the personnel needed to implement the plan. Watch Otto Porter here. This is a critical play not just for that last game, but for a team that knows they’re going to have to deal with this gimmick defenses on Curry.
Green is back, Lee and Thompson not far behind, and the rest of the roster is working well. This is a deep, flexible team with a lot of high end talent.
Watch Wiggins face and listen to his tone of voice as he talks about his first full scrimmage with Thompson.
How good are the Heat?
But like most of the NBA, the more relevant question at this point is who will be playing for them tonight. The Heat will be coming in on the tail end of a back-to-back after losing to the Sacramento Kings yesterday afternoon. Though they haven’t registered an updated injury report at time of writing, you can get the gist of it by looking at the Heat’s final injury report ahead of yesterday’s game:
There are some major names missing off this team right now, but they’re holding up ok. Mostly, it’s due to their intact three player core of Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Tyler Herro. The Heat rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense, and had won six in a row prior to somehow getting beat by the Kings last night.
Much like the Warriors, this is a roster with a core group of players and feet firmly set in the schemes and priorities that took them within sniffing distance of a championship two years ago ( and then got knocked out by the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks last season). This is a strong team with lofty goals and the chops to get there. Unfortunately for them, so are the Warriors.
I do think this is the last home game without Klay Thompson. He sounds close, he looks good, and I am ready.
For tonight, the return of Green is going to help propel the Warriors to a win. The Heat lost to the Sacramento Kings last night… the Kings!