Klay Thompson outscored the entire Trail Blazers team in the first quarter on Sunday. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Klay Thompson, who has long been Golden State’s Robin to Stephen Curry’s Batman, will take a more pronounced role in the Warriors’ offense while the reigning MVP works to return to the fold. Curry said during Sunday’s game that he might be back for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals, though it was far from a guarantee.

Curry shouldn’t rush the recovery process, though, because the Warriors are capable of winning the series against the Portland Trail Blazers without him. Shaun Livingston, a 6-foot-7 combo guard with arms the length of wind turbines, is filling in for Curry in the starting lineup. The guy he’ll be looking to most for scoring? Thompson.

In the team’s series-clinching win over the Houston Rockets, Thompson and Livingston shot better than 70 percent from the floor, marking the first time in nearly a decade that a starting back court accomplished the feat in a playoff game, per Elias.

In Sunday’s 118-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Thompson outscored Portland’s entire team in the first quarter en route to a 37-point performance.


The sweet-shooting Thompson has logged 767 minutes this season without Curry on the floor, per NBA Wowy, the equivalent of 15.9 regulation games. He’s averaging 1.17 points per shot in those minutes, a mark above league average but lower than his 1.21-points-per-shot average with Curry on the court. His true shooting percentage and points-per-possession average also see a down tick without Curry.

Total Minutes Points Per Shot Points Per Possession TS%
Thompson w/o Curry 767 1.17 1.21 58.3
Thompson w/ Curry 2105 1.21 1.26 60.3

Like Thompson, Golden State tallies fewer points per shot and points per possession without Curry on the floor.

Total Minutes Points Per Shot Points Per Possession TS%
Golden State w/ Thompson but not Curry 767 1.124 1.096 56.2
Golden State w/ Thompson and Curry 2105 1.26 1.2 62.9

It’s worth noting that the Warriors, per ESPN, found open looks throughout the regular season without Curry on the court. Quantified Shot Quality is a metric engineered to assess the quality of a shot independent of whether it goes in, by taking into account expected field goal percentage, location, shot type and defensive movement. Without Curry, ESPN found, the Warriors dropped from first to fourth in the NBA, meaning that the team still found high-grade looks.

The loss of Curry unquestionably alters how opposing teams defend Golden State. With Livingston manning the point guard spot, opposing teams will almost certainly duck under on pick-and-rolls run through him, a move that’s a borderline death sentence when done against Curry — whose three-point percentage during the regular season jumped from 28.6 percent to 40.2 percent when defenders gave him 2-4 feet of space instead of 0-2 feet. Livingston has netted 12 three-pointers in his career — not exactly an option opposing defenses are game-planning against. Funneling the ball into the post will be more a priority.

Losing Curry also modifies how Thompson gets into the flow of the offense, seeing as he received 27.5 percent of his passes during the regular season from Curry; only Green supplied him with more. Thompson’s shooting efficiency worsened on passes received from Livingston instead of Curry, which is to be expected.

FG% 3P%
Passes received from Curry 47.5 46.2
Passes received from Livingston 46.9 42.2

Golden State still has a number of screen combinations to free up Thompson away from the ball, as evidenced below. He’s blossomed as the team’s go-to scorer without Curry this season, too, leading the team in the scoring column in five of the seven games played with Curry inactive, while averaging 27 points per contest.

Kerr has a loaded roster at his disposal, which — sans Curry — includes two all-stars and a sixth man of the year candidate in Andre Iguodala, the reigning NBA Finals MVP. Golden State has outscored opponents by 11.2 points per 100 possessions with Thompson and Green on the court and Curry sitting during this season.

It can be easy to forget that this team hasn’t lost two games in a row all season. Golden State is a juggernaut. Even without Curry, it’s a tall order for an opponent to keep the Warriors at bay and although shorthanded, Golden State should find its way to the conference finals.

Josh Planos has been published at the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the Guardian, the Pacific Standard and VICE, among other publications. He has been heard on CBS Sports Radio, Fox Sports Radio and ESPN Radio. Planos is currently a Digital Editor at KETV NewsWatch 7 and a freelance writer.