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Warriors vs. Celtics: Golden State needs more from struggling Klay Thompson going forward in NBA Finals

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Anything written about Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson in regards to these NBA Finals needs to be couched by saying that the fact he’s even out on the floor is impressive, and inspiring.

Thompson missed two full seasons thanks to a pair of serious lower-body injuries and he worked relentlessly to get back out on the floor. There were some that wondered if he would ever make a full return, just as there were some that wondered if the Warriors’ trio of Thompson, Draymond Green and Steph Curry would ever make it back to the Finals following a couple of down seasons.

Both of those things happened, and they’re both worthy of acknowledgment, and even celebration. But, with that said, the Warriors will simply need more from Thompson — aka the second “Splash Brother” — moving forward if they’re going to raise their fourth banner under the tutelage of Steve Kerr. 

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To say that Thompson has been cold over the first two games of the Finals would be an understatement. In the 69 minutes he played during those two games, Thompson connected on just 10 of his 33 shots from the floor (including going four of 19 in Game 2), and he hit just four of his 15 attempts from long range. He recorded just 26 total points, five rebounds and four assists. Thompson was largely a non-factor in both of the games. Despite Thompson’s struggles, the Warriors won Game 2 on Sunday night, 107-88, after dropping Game 1.

Now, Thompson missing shots is different than a lot of other players missing shots, because his sheer presence out on the floor commands defensive attention thanks to the reputation he has established for himself over the course of his career. So even when he’s not knocking down shots himself, he’s helping to generate open opportunities for his teammates, as he did here:

Thompson isn’t directly involved in the play, but he draws Jaylen Brown away from the action. Brown doesn’t want to leave Thompson open, and that in turn opens up a driving lane for Curry coming off of the dribble handoff. Value like that doesn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but Thompson brings it in spades. He’s even more valuable for the Warriors, though, when he’s knocking down shots at a high clip — like he did in Golden State’s close out games against the Dallas Mavericks (32 points on 12 of 25 shooting) and Memphis Grizzlies (30 points on 11 of 22 shooting). 

So, how can Thompson get back to that? Maybe by slowing things down, a bit. It seems like he has been pressing ever so slightly in the Finals, so far. It almost seems like he’s so eager to knock down the big shots we’re all accustomed to seeing him hit that he’s forcing things at times. He also seems to be allowing frustration to creep in, as he could be seen slapping his hands together and shaking his head as the misses started to pile up on Sunday night. 

Boston’s defense certainly deserves some credit for Thompson’s struggles in the series so far. They weren’t the league’s best defensive team during the regular season for no reason, after all, and they’ve done a commendable job of limiting his looks. However, if you go back and look at Thompson’s misses from Game 2, you’ll see a lot of makeable shots — especially makeable for Thompson. Like this one: 

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And this one: 

Those are shots we’ve seen Thompson knock down countless times over the course of his career. So clearly he’s capable of it. While it might be slightly oversimplifying things to say that he just needs to do a better job of converting on his attempts, there is at least some truth to that. After all, the NBA isn’t called a “make or miss league” for nothing. 

When Thompson is making shots, the Warriors are extremely tough to topple. When he’s not, well, they’re still aren’t easy to defeat, but they become more vulnerable. In addition to Thompson simply settling in and finding a rhythm, it’s also obviously on coach Kerr to continue to put him in position to succeed. In Game 3, he might even consider running a few more direct sets for Thompson in order to try to get him going. 

It’s especially important for Thompson to make shots in order to maximize his value to the Warriors at this point in time, as he has yet to return to form as the dominant defender he once was. Perhaps he will again, but he’s a step slower than he used to be on that end now, and that step takes him from being a lockdown perimeter defender to just an above-average one. The Warriors even opted to have him guard Boston bigs like Al Horford on some possessions, as opposed to deploying him on perimeter threats like Jaylen Brown. In the past, if Thompson wasn’t making his shots, he could make up for it defensively, but that isn’t the case currently. 

Again, this isn’t meant as a knock on Thompson, but the facts can’t be ignored. He simply needs to be better than he was in Games 1 and 2. He’d acknowledge as much himself. Playing alongside the game’s best shooter in Curry, opportunities are always going to be there for Thompson, and it’s up to him to capitalize. His ability to do so could go a long way toward determining which team ultimately gets to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season. 

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Packers’ Aaron Rodgers sets up QB Danny Etling’s long rushing TD during mid-game interview in preseason win

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Quarterback Danny Etling scored a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Friday’s preseason victory over the New Orleans Saints, yet the highlight of the play wasn’t the touchdown run itself — but who was on air when the play occurred. Etling took the snap and ran to his right untouched for the touchdown with Aaron Rodgers being interviewed mid-game. 

Needless to say, Rodgers was pretty excited when Etling — the third-string quarterback — had the big play for the score. 

“What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya. What did I tell ya,” Rodgers said as he clapped his hands and smiled. “Yeah baby, I love it. I love it.” 

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This isn’t the first time Etling ran a naked bootleg and scored on a long touchdown run. Etling scored on an 86-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to his right during his time with the New England Patriots in 2018 — and this touchdown looked eerily similar. In fact, Rodgers was complimenting Etling’s athleticism and reminiscing about that very run minutes before he took off for the score Friday night.

Etling has bounced around the league, being waived and signed by the Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks several times. Etling also was on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, the Denver Broncos practice squad, the Packers practice squad and the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. He actually was assigned to the Packers practice squad and later signed by the Jaguars and assigned to their practice squad last December.

Overall, Etling has been involved in 27 transactions since entering the league in 2018 — yet has never played a regular season snap in the NFL

For one night, the former seventh-round quarterback from LSU recaptured his rookie year magic. No one at Lambeau Field may have been happier than Rodgers. 

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Watch Everton vs. Nottingham Forest: How to live stream, TV channel, Saturday’s Premier League start time

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The Premier League is back in action on Saturday.

Who’s Playing

  • Nottingham Forest @ Everton
  • Current Records: Nottingham Forest 1-1; Everton 0-2

Paramount+ is the only place to watch every minute of every Serie A match this season, not to mention select games in Italian. Sign up now with offer code ITALY to get a special one month free trial. A subscription also gives you access to other sports content including every UEFA Champions League and Europa League match, the NFL on CBS, and countless movies and shows. Get it all free for 1 month with promo code ITALY.

What to Know

Everton will look to defend their home turf on Saturday against Nottingham Forest at 10 a.m. ET.

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This past Saturday, Everton fell a goal shy of Aston Villa, losing 2-1. That was Everton’s second consecutive one-goal defeat against Villa.

Speaking of close games: Nottingham Forest won by a goal, slipping past West Ham United 1-0. The Nottingham Forest offense checked out after the first half but had enough goals banked to take the contest anyway.

Nottingham Forest’s victory lifted them to 1-1 (10th place with three points) while Everton’s loss dropped them down to 0-2 (18th place with zero points). We’ll see if Nottingham Forest can repeat their recent success or if Everton bounces back and reverse their fortune.

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.  

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How To Watch

  • Who: Everton vs. Nottingham Forest
  • When: Saturday at 10 a.m. ET
  • Where: Goodison Park
  • Online streaming: Peacock
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Everton -111; Draw +245; Forest +325

Featured Game | Everton vs. Nottingham Forest

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last six years.

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How to watch Fulham vs. Brentford: Premier League live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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The Premier League returns to action on Saturday.

Who’s Playing

  • Brentford @ Fulham
  • Current Records: Brentford 1-0-1; Fulham 0-0-2

Paramount+ is the only place to watch every minute of every Serie A match this season, not to mention select games in Italian. Sign up now with offer code ITALY to get a special one month free trial. A subscription also gives you access to other sports content including every UEFA Champions League and Europa League match, the NFL on CBS, and countless movies and shows. Get it all free for 1 month with promo code ITALY.

What to Know

Fulham will look to defend their home turf on Saturday against Brentford at 10 a.m. ET.

This past Saturday, Fulham and Wolverhampton tied 0-0, good for one point each.

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Meanwhile, Brentford got themselves on the board against Manchester United this past Saturday, but Man United never followed suit. Brentford took their game against the Red Devils by a conclusive 4-0 score. The Brentford offense checked out after the first half but had enough goals banked to take the match anyway.

After their draw, Fulham will be looking to earn the full three points in this match.

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.  

How To Watch

  • Who: Fulham vs. Brentford
  • When: Saturday at 10 a.m. ET
  • Where: Craven Cottage
  • Online streaming: Peacock
  • Caesars Sportsbook odds: Fulham +145; Draw +240; Brentford +190

Featured Game | Fulham vs. Brentford

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