Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson earned the nickname “Game Six Klay” due to his spectacular play in those critical contests but says he is not looking to force the issue in Game Six of the Finals on Thursday.
Thompson has been steadily warming up during the series and the game offers the Warriors a chance to beat the Celtics on the road and claim their fourth championship in eight years.
“It’s obviously a nickname I earned and I want to live up to it,” Thompson told reporters on Wednesday.
“At the same time, I don’t want to go in there and play hero ball. I’m just going to be in there and be myself, do what I’ve been doing the last few games. I know that will allow us to be successful.”
Thompson plans to tap into his killer instinct, which he said means playing with “incredible intensity, force and will”.
Thompson has averaged over 20 points and shot nearly 50 per cent from three-point range in 12 career Game Six’s.
The most memorable came when he scored 41 points and made 11 three-pointers to lead the Warriors to a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals in 2016.
YouTube has a highlight reel devoted to his Game Six heroics and Thompson has admitted to watching it when he finds himself in a shooting slump like the one he was in earlier in the series.
“Game Six Klay, I don’t know how he’s been able to do it,” his fellow sharpshooting guard Stephen Curry said.
“Just his personality, no moment is too big for him in terms of hooping, enjoying himself, embracing hostile crowds, or if we’re at home enjoying the home atmosphere,” he said.
“He has a knack for those type of big moments. Just so happened to be Game Six. And he has another opportunity to add to that tale tomorrow.”
The Celtics, however, maintain the experience gained from winning three elimination games during the playoffs has prepared them to do it again.
With their backs against the wall, the Celtics were victorious in two win-or-go-home games against Milwaukee and a Game Seven against Miami that punched their ticket to the Finals.
“We’ve been in this position before,” Celtics forward Grant Williams told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s one of those things where you embrace it. It’s exciting. It’s what you live for really.”
Trailing 3-2 in the series, Boston will likely need a big night from forward Jayson Tatum, who has been at times brilliant but also vanished during key stretches of the series.
“It’s not over with,” Tatum said.
“I think having done it before should give you even more confidence that you can.
“Not that it’s going to be easy or it’s going to be given to us, but you should be extremely confident as long as you got a chance. We got a chance tomorrow.”
Tatum said he felt no need to give a “hero speech” to motivate his team.
“We know what’s at stake,” he said. “Everybody in that locker room should and is going to understand what we got to do, what’s on the line.”