NBA AM: Thompson ‘Embarrassed,’ Calls Game 4 ‘Must Win’

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Thompson ‘Embarrassed’ by Game 3, Calls Game 4 ‘Must Win’

Dwyane Wade may have won two championships with LeBron James in 2012 and 2013, but his finest work may have come back when he led the Miami HEAT to the franchise’s first ever NBA title. It was in 2006 and it came at the expense of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks were the more talented team and after racing out to a 2-0 series lead, lost the final four games to the HEAT. What the HEAT lacked in finesse, they made up for with toughness. They pounded on the Mavericks and rode the best player in the series to the title—a recipe that the Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to replicate right now.

KlayInside1The Cavaliers may be tougher, but Klay Thompson isn’t ready to concede that just yet.

“I don’t think they’re tougher than us,” Thompson said prior to Game 4. “I think we’ve played tough teams this whole playoff run and people outside are going to say what they say,” he said.

And perhaps Thompson has a point. To their credit, the Warriors defeated a team that epitomizes “tough,” and that would be the Memphis Grizzlies. Interestingly enough, they found themselves in the exact situation that Game 4 will present to them on Thursday night; they trail in the series, 2-1, and face an all-important Game 4.

It is from that experience that the Warriors have drawn and it is from it that they derive the confidence that it will take to emerge from the Finals victorious. For what it’s worth, the Warriors defeated the Grizzlies three straight times to eventually win the series in six games. And if there is one thing Thompson does know, it is that a win in Game 4 will change everything.

“For me, how I look at it, is the narrative is going to change every game,” he said.

“You know if we would have won Game 2, it would be, ‘Oh, do the Cavs have a fighting chance?’ Or if we would have come back [Tuesday] it would have been a different story, so you can’t really pay attention to what people say. You just got to go out there and fix what you can do and control what you can control.”

As far as what the Warriors can control, effort would be a good start. The second best thing for them would be having their Most Valuable Player not play as passively as we saw during stretches of both Game 2 and Game 3.

“Maybe we just need to act like we’re down 20 [points] instead of being tied at the start of the game and then we’ll come out and play with more fire,” Thompson said, acknowledging that the Warriors have allowed the Cavaliers to dictate a number of things in this series.

It then comes as no surprise that it is the Cavaliers who hold a 2-1 advantage in the series heading into Thursday night’s Game 4. Still, Thompson knows that if the Warriors can emerge from Game 4 victorious and send the 2015 NBA Finals back to Oakland tied up at two, the Warriors will be exactly where they need to be.

In a way, it is easy for Steve Kerr’s team to be confident about their ability to get a win when they need it most because the Warriors do not feel like they have played their brand of basketball over the course of this series. Despite that, they were one possession away from stealing a Game 2 in which they were sorely outplayed and one made basket away from fully erasing a 20-point deficit in the latter stages of Game 3.

“That second half, you saw where we imposed our will and we just got to do that from the jump,” Thompson said, recounting the final 24 minutes of Game 3. “Play with a sense of desperation, play with a fight that we haven’t had before… This is a must win to go back to Oracle with momentum in our favor and change the direction of the series.”

And he is 100 percent correct. During the course of the regular season, the Warriors were 39-2 at Oracle Arena and have gone 8-2 in their 10 playoff games there. Deep down, they know that if they can make this a best-of-three series with two of those games being in their building, they will be in good shape.

The only problem for Thompson and his team is that the Cavaliers are aware of these facts, as well. They will come out with passion and fire in Game 4 and will be confident that this series is there for the taking.

“They are probably riding high with confidence right now,” Thompson said of the Cavaliers. “So we kind of have to impose our will, which we haven’t really done these three games. We’ve kind of just hung in there and the first two games could have gone either way. Then, they imposed their will [in Game 3].”

Even more than impose their will, the Cavaliers seemed to have broken the Warriors spirit, at least temporarily. Thompson called the team’s effort to begin the game “embarrassing,” and it’s easy to agree with that assessment when one considers what is at stake.

The Warriors admirably fought back and nearly erased what was a 20-point deficit. Was it a mirage? Or have they truly found something?

“I’m proud of the way we fought back, but we just got to come out and play mean and play mad,” Thompson said, somewhat passively suggesting that the Warriors are tougher than they have been given credit for.

“We haven’t shown up and played the Warriors way we’ve been playing all year.”

That’s certainly true. And if the Warriors are to win this series, they must avoid a 3-1 deficit. No team in NBA history has won the NBA Finals after finding themselves in that kind of hole.

“When we get the ball off the rim, we’ve got to run, we’ve got to run off of turnovers,” Thompson said of the ‘to-do’ list that his team has. “We just got to get more possessions and get up and down the court because we’ve got the depth to do it.”

Thus far, it has not been a question of capability, but execution. And if the Warriors are to have a fighting chance to win this series, they need to show up from the beginning.

With everything on the line, we will find out what the Warriors are truly made of.

Check Out Basketball Insiders’ Draft Coverage

While the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors is obviously dominating headlines right now, the 2015 NBA Draft is right around the corner and Basketball Insiders has a ton of coverage for those of you who are interested. We understand that many fans are already in draft mode, so we have been pushing out a lot of draft content lately. Be sure to check out the following pieces:

  • Profiles of every single draft prospect, which include their strengths, weaknesses, NBA comparison and much more information.

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