Klay Thompson will get an opportunity to rebound from a rare embarrassing moment when the Golden State Warriors entertain the Miami Heat in San Francisco on Thursday night.
Irritated by a poor shooting night, and like many teammates, a disparity in foul calls, Thompson came away the loser in a verbal encounter with Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker in the third quarter of the Warriors’ road game on Tuesday.
Thompson and Booker were nailed with technical fouls for their up-close-and-personal spat. Things appeared to be cooling down before Thompson didn’t like something he heard from Mikal Bridges and rejoined an otherwise tame midcourt fray, drawing a second — and ejection-prompting — “T.”
The Suns went on to win the game handily, 134-105, after which Golden State standout Stephen Curry was surprisingly upbeat despite being held under 30 points for the first time this season.
“After (Thompson) got thrown out, he had a lot more to say, which I love,” Curry said of his longtime backcourt mate, who was ejected for the first time in his career. “The back and forth is a part of (the game), and I like that he’s engaged in that respect because it matters to him.”
Taking the court on the second night of a back-to-back, the Heat might have a hard time recognizing Thompson. They haven’t gone head-to-head with him since February 2019, when he poured in 36 points after having had 29 against them 17 days earlier.
Thompson, Curry and Draymond Green all sat out the last time the Warriors saw the Heat, and surprisingly it didn’t matter. Golden State completed a two-game, season-series sweep in Miami last March with a 118-104 win led by Jordan Poole’s 30 points.
The Warriors outscored the Heat 42-13 off the bench that night. But Damion Lee, Gary Payton II and Nemanja Bjelica — Golden State’s key reserves that night — are no longer around, with the Warriors having gone with a younger second unit that has routinely left games in worse shape than it entered.
In fact, Golden State’s James Wiseman (minus-54), Poole (minus-52) and Jonathan Kuminga (minus-42) all rank among the NBA’s bottom 11 in plus/minus.
What kind of depth the Heat show up with in San Francisco depends upon how coach Erik Spoelstra responds to his team’s first road back-to-back of the season. Miami didn’t have to burn its starters in a 119-98 shellacking of the host Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night to open a four-day, three-game trip.
“This is an opportunity for us to really start to connect and face some adversity on the road,” Spoelstra said.
The Heat played their top nine healthy guys on both ends of a home back-to-back last week and were able to bounce back from a loss to the Boston Celtics with a win over the Toronto Raptors the next night.
Like the Warriors, the Heat were involved in a fracas with the Raptors last week, one that saw Caleb Martin not only ejected from the game but also suspended for a rematch with Toronto two nights later, which Miami lost.
Unlike Thompson, who made no comment after his incident, Martin apologized.
“It’s tough watching, knowing you can contribute to a win,” he said after Miami’s loss. “Overall I’m feeling like I definitely could have contributed for sure. Especially when you lose, you are going to think that loss is on you. That’s how you learn. I learned from that — make sure I don’t do it again.”
Martin returned to start and score 16 points in the win at Portland.
–Field Level Media