Golden State Warriors

This Date in NBA History (May 28): Klay Thompson's historic 41-point Game 6 vs. OKC Thunder in 2016 and more

On May 28th in 2016, Klay Thompson went off for a playoff career-high 41 points and helped the Golden State Warriors stave off elimination by winning Game 6 of their Conference Finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Trailing by as many as 13 points, the Warriors, who won an NBA record 73 games in the regular season, were playing from behind for the majority of the game (37:45 minutes). However, on the back of Thompson's record-setting performance, they clinched Game 6 on the road 108-101.

En route to the game-high tally of 41, Thompson knocked down an NBA playoff record 11 three-pointers.

"Steph told me before I went out in the fourth, `This is your time," Thompson said. "`You know, put on a show out there and have fun.' I took those words to heart, and I just tried to be aggressive."

19 of those 41 came in the final period, a quarter the Warriors outscored the Thunder 33-18 including a 19-5 run in the final five minutes of the game.

After trailing 3-1 in this series, the Warriors needed to win Game 6 to have any hope of making the improbable comeback. Despite their Game 5 win, which brought some momentum their way, the Warriors were going to be up against it in Game 6 having lost Game 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City by a combined margin of 52 points.

Having forced Game 7 back in Oakland, the Warriors won the win-it-all game 96-88 and booked their second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. They became the 10th team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit.

After making history, the Warriors were on the receiving end of it in the 2016 NBA Finals as they surrendered a 3-1 series lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers - marking the only time a 3-1 series deficit was surrendered in the NBA Finals

Over the course of the Warriors' five-year Finals run, the team had been down 3-2 in a playoff series four times and on three occasions, Thompson has come up big. While this showcase against the Thunder was the first, the other two came against the Houston Rockets.

In Game 6 of the 2018 Conference Finals at home, Thompson dropped a game-high 35 points to force a Game 7, one the Warriors would eventually win to advance to the 2018 NBA Finals.

In 2019, the Warriors were down 3-2 to the Rockets again, this time in the Conference Semifinals. What's worse, they were going to be without Kevin Durant against a healthy Houston squad.

While Stephen Curry stole the show, leading the Warriors to a series-clinching Game 6 win with 33 points in the second half, it was Thompson that kept the Warriors afloat when Curry struggled early on. As Curry went scoreless in the first half of this game, Thompson scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half - a huge factor in the game being tied at 57 at halftime.

Other notable events on May 28th

  • In 1974, the Portland Trail Blazers select Bill Walton with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft.
  • In 1978, Dennis Johnson of the Seattle Super Sonics recorded seven blocks in a 93-92 Game 3 win over the Washington Bullets. The seven blocks are the most recorded by a guard in an NBA Finals game.
  • In 1986, Larry Bird was named league MVP for the third consecutive season. Averaging 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.0 steals, Bird led the Celtics to a league-best 67-15 record including a dominant 40-1 home record. He joined the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only players to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy three years in a row.

Notable playoff eliminations on May 28th

  • In 2018, the Golden State Warriors came back from 15 points down to win Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals 101-92, on the road against the Rockets. Thus, booking their fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals - becoming the sixth franchise in NBA history to do so.
  • In 2010, the Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 96-84 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, booking their 21st Finals appearance in franchise history and the second in the previous three years.
  • In 1989, the Los Angeles Lakers win Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals 122-117 against the Phoenix Suns to book their third consecutive Finals appearance and the eighth in the previous 10 years. The Lakers became the first team in NBA history to go undefeated in the lead-up to the NBA Finals, courtesy of their 11-0 record in the Western Conference Playoffs. However, in the Finals, the Lakers were swept 4-0 by the Detroit Pistons.

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