Why Klay Thompson's 28-point performance made a case for keeping him in the starting lineup

MIAMI — Here are five takeaways from the Golden State Warriors' 113-92 win over a short-handed Miami Heat team on Tuesday night that has temporarily settled into a wobbly spot in the standings.

The Heat ruled out Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson on Monday afternoon. So the Warriors prepared in advance to face a Heat team without their top two floor spacers, thinking coach Erik Spoelstra would rely on defense. Kevin Love and Jimmy Butler were then dropped two hours before tip-off, dragging Spoelstra into a desperate turnover situation.

Therefore, the Warriors expected the zone, pressure on the entire field, and different schemes from Miami in an attempt to drag the event into the mud. In response, coach Steve Kerr started Thompson in place of Brandin Podzemski.

“Get a little more distance on the ground to start the game,” Kerr said. “That doesn't necessarily mean it's permanent. I felt like tonight was important.”

After nearly a decade as a starter, Thompson moved to the bench in mid-February. He has started four games since then — twice for the injured Podzemski and twice for the injured Steph Curry. This was the first time since the reset that Kerr Thompson started next to Curry when Podzemski was available.

Part of Kerr's recent justification for continuing to draft Curry, Podzemski, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, and Draymond Green was based on numbers. This five-man group is plus-59 in 232 minutes combined. Podzemski, as Kerr likes to point out, has the best individual player plus-minus on the team — plus-217, nearly 100 higher than anyone else.

But Tuesday night's initial five-man group — which replaced Podzemski with Thompson — began to put together a decent sample size and the output was more efficient. They outscore opponents by 55 points in 157 minutes combined.

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This included demolishing the Heat's shortstop. This group outscored Miami 42-19 in 23 minutes, went on a 13-5 run (which included three Thompson buckets) and opened the second half with a 20-12 run to regain control of the game.

Kerr elected to come back to them in prime time, putting the lineup of Curry, Thompson, Wiggins, Kuminga and Green together with 5:20 left and the Warriors leading 96-85. Over the next two minutes, they went on a 9-0 run to close the door – a Kuminga lob dunk, a Wiggins layup and two Thompson jumpers to complete the blowout.

Kerr has not committed to the starting lineup in Orlando on Wednesday or after, but the numbers and Thompson's recent hot stretch make that case.

2. Thompson hot stretch

Thompson's 28 points against the Heat included six 3s. He played 31 minutes, which has been almost normal for him lately even when he's been coming off the bench. Kerr kept Thompson in high usage because he was quietly on a long run of consistent production.

In his past 19 games — beginning the night Kerr controversially moved him to the bench — Thompson has averaged 18.6 points on 47.6 percent overall and 42 percent on big-time 3s. His 76 assists in that time frame are the most in the NBA, 11 ahead of Curry on 10 fewer attempts.

“Hmm, this guy is trying to jinx me,” Thompson said as he relayed his numbers. “I feel good. I would like to repeat this performance tomorrow night in Orlando because these matches are very crucial.”

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3. Draymond's defense

The Warriors held the Heat to 92 points on 40 percent shooting and 24 percent from 3. Miami couldn't accomplish much, in part because of its short personnel. But the Warriors didn't make it easy. This was one of their more focused defensive displays of the last couple of weeks.

Much of the credit lies at Green's feet. He was put in charge of Bam Adebayo and repeatedly stuck to it in one-on-one scenarios, forcing Adebayo into contested jumpers. Adebayo made a handful of steals, but he also missed a bunch and the Warriors never felt threatened by sending help to Green, allowing them to stay home for their shooters.

This was probably Green's best defensive possession today. Because of the transition scramble, it starts at Patty Mills at the bottom of the screen. The Heat see this and try to get Adebayo in a post-Moussa Modi game.

But Green doesn't allow that. He works his way up the floor, literally dragging Moody out of the game, forcing Adebayo to pass it wide, and then, after the ball finds itself back in Adebayo's hands, pushes him into the deep corner and challenges a hasty jumper – mid-air. -Balls. Shot clock violation.

4. Color appearance

Trayce Jackson-Davis missed Tuesday night's game with knee soreness, putting Kevon Looney back in the rotation as a backup center. Looney played 19 consistent minutes, scored three goals, grabbed six rebounds, and helped defend Adebayo.

Kerr has mentioned three times recently how much he thinks the Warriors miss Looney's voice and presence on the court. The third reference came before the game in Miami when Kerr was discussing how “quiet” the Warriors were defensively. Lonnie is one of their best callers.

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But Looney has no clear path back to a regular role. Green is the team's primary position, and unlocks the combinations that work best. Jackson-Davis has earned the expanded opportunity with some promising play that can help now and improve the Warriors' front line setup in the future. Looney is third on the team to post just two.

5. Monitor the arrangement

The victory led to the Warriors defeating the Houston Rockets, ranked tenth in the West. They hold the tiebreaker, so it's basically a two-game advantage. Above them, the Los Angeles Lakers escaped with a double-overtime win over the Bucks in Milwaukee, staying two points ahead of the Warriors in the loss column.

Wednesday brings some action. The Warriors are in Orlando to take on the powerhouse Magic, while the Rockets are in Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder.

(Photo: Sam Navarro/USA Today)

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