Klay Thompson leads Warriors back into NBA playoffs
The Warriors clinched their playoff place in style on Saturday, as Klay Thompson led a 21-point comeback win over the Jazz to end a three-year drought.
Klay Thompson knew this would be a season of "ups and downs" so was delighted he could save one of his best performances for a big game on Saturday.
The Golden State Warriors beat the Utah Jazz 111-107 to secure their place in the playoffs for the first time since 2019 – the last in their run of five straight NBA Finals appearances.
Breakout star Jordan Poole was vital again with 31 points, but the night belonged to Thompson, who had 36.
Thompson sustained the first of two serious long-term injuries in the 2019 Finals against the Toronto Raptors and so missed the entirety of the next two campaigns, in which the Warriors fell short of the postseason.
He returned this year but has not always looked like one of the greatest shooters in NBA history.
Thompson is shooting career lows both from the field (41.8 per cent) and from three-point range (37.1 per cent), while his 19.3 points per game are his fewest since 2013-14, before the Warriors' dynasty began.
But this has been a difficult season for Golden State as a whole, their strong early start fading in the face of further injury problems.
Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have only appeared together in three games and started together just once.
With the finish line nearing, though, it was Thompson who ensured they should get the opportunity to line up in the playoffs, when it is hoped that Curry will return.
"I know I can flip a switch just like that," Thompson said. "I knew this year would have its ups and downs, and I just told myself yesterday that it's one game and I will move on.
"I told Kenny Atkinson that I felt like I was going to have a big night tonight, and it came to fruition. I'm happy it did."
Coach Steve Kerr added: "We've seen it a million times. If Klay just sees the ball go through the hoop a couple of times, he can make the bad ones, too.
"I didn't think this was a dramatic improvement in terms of shot selection, but I think the fact that that midrange shot was there, that allowed him to get into a rhythm, and then he started making the impossible ones."
The Warriors were 21 points behind at one stage in the second quarter, making this their biggest comeback win of the season. They finally claimed the lead with 3:33 left in the game.
"What a performance," Kerr said. "I was amazed by the skill of Klay and Jordan, the emotion and passion from Draymond, and the methodical defense and energy from Andrew [Wiggins] and Otto [Porter Jr.].
"It was an unbelievable performance down the stretch by our guys."