OAKLAND –- Eight years after the Warriors snapped a long playoff drought and pulled a shocking first-round upset under the “We Believe” banner, there is a new cause in which they believe.
Shooting guard Klay Thompson, who sustained a concussion in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday, will be fit to return for Game 1 of the NBA Finals next Thursday – or so coach Steve Kerr believes.
“I expect him to be there,” Kerr said after Saturday’s practice, in which Thompson did not participate.
Thompson, who started in the 2015 All-Star Game alongside teammate Stephen Curry, was hurt when he took a knee to the side of his head from Houston forward Trevor Ariza in Game 5.
Asked about contingencies, Kerr said he’s not yet ready to consider alternatives because Thompson is progressing well that he anticipates Thompson will be ready for the Finals, which are five days away.
“There’s sort of a progression of tests that he has to go through that’s NBA protocol, league protocol,” Kerr said. “And he’s going through that process.
“All is going very well up to this point.”
Still, the discussion revolves around a concussion – one of most complex non-invasive medical issues there is. There is, too, an established NBA concussion protocol that Thompson must pass to be cleared.
Sometimes, a player can return after five days, as Curry did in November 2013. That would seem to be, for the Warriors, a best-case scenario for Thompson.
Other times, though, a player is out for a more extended period. Kings forward Rudy Gay sustained a concussion on March 30, returned for one game, April 7, and after experiencing further symptoms, missed the final eight days of the season.
Should Thompson continue to be sidelined into Game 1, Kerr likely would turn to Justin Holiday or Leandro Barbosa. Thompson missed four games this season, replaced by Holiday in three of those games and by Barbosa in the other.
The Warriors will resume practice on Monday, which is when Thompson will be re-evaluated.