NBA

Kerr delighted with Thompson progress after 'best stretch yet'

By Sports Desk January 19, 2022

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says Klay Thompson's progress on his return from long-term injury is "right on schedule" after top scoring in Tuesday's win over the Detroit Pistons.

Thompson, who endured a 941-day layoff due to Achilles and ACL injuries before returning earlier this month, scored 17 points in the first half before finishing with 21 in his fourth game back.

The 31-year-old three-time NBA champion impressed alongside Stephen Curry (18 points and eight assists) in a sizzling 66-38 first-half in Tuesday's 102-86 win, with Kerr describing it as their "best stretch together" since his return.

"That was probably he best stretch that Steph and Klay have played together," Kerr told reporters. "It was a nice groove in front of our home fans."

Kerr added: "It's good to see him get hot and hear the crowd behind him. He got into a little rhythm. We had a great first half, 20 assists, the ball was moving, Klay was a big part of that."

The former Chicago Bulls guard said that he felt there were signs that Thompson was physically getting close to his best, having played on managed minutes since his return.

"I just think it's rhythm and legs," he said. "When you've been out for a while, the legs are the toughest thing to recover in terms of the force going into the shot and feeling powerful and strong like you do when you're in great shape.

"He's getting his legs underneath him. He's looking better and better. His conditioning has improved. He's right on schedule."

Kerr also brushed aside any concerns about Curry, who sat out the last quarter and appeared inhibited by the hand injury which kept him out of Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"I don’t even know. I saw him shaking his hand," Kerr said. "I haven’t heard anything about it so I assume he's fine.

"We had the lead so we didn’t need to put him back in."

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  • Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals

    Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Eastern Conference Finals will be an old-school defensive slugfest, and that he feels the best two teams made it.

    The Heat needed six games to triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics came back from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to get the job done in Game 7.

    As a reward for getting their series out of the way early, the Heat will have five days of rest before Tuesday's Game 1, while the Celtics have just one proper rest day between series.

    Speaking to the media after Monday's practice, Spoelstra said it is shaping up as a series that will warm the heart of Heat president Pat Riley.

    "Pat's [Riley] probably is going to enjoy this," he said. "This is like a throwback series. 

    "If both teams are really on top of their games, this should be a series where neither team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense, and making multiple efforts and being disciplined to schemes. 

    "So it will be a lot of plays and things in the margins… really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it's fitting that we're moving into the conference finals.

    "Boston has played as well as anyone in the entire league once they got to 2022. It's not by accident. They're playing very strong basketball. They do it on both ends."

    Heat star Jimmy Butler was asked about his potential matchup against Jayson Tatum, and he had nothing but praise for the Celtics' best player.

    "He's one of the best in the game right now," he said. "As much attention as he draws on the offensive end – and then I think what's really impressive is the way that he's picked up his defensive intensity. 

    "You got to tip your hat to that and respect him, I think those are the guys that you want to go up against."

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