With the Golden State Warriors facing elimination, Thompson erupted for a game-high 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting and 9-of-14 from 3-point range. He splashed in seven of his triples in the second half to help his team outscore the Houston Rockets 64-25 in the final two quarters.
"The guy's a machine," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "He's just so fit physically. He seems to thrive in these situations. But he was fantastic."
In 2016, in another Game 6 elimination scenario against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thompson exploded for 41 points and drained 11 of 18 3-pointers.
The 6-foot-7 two-way player has a knack for showing up when it matters most.
"I don't know if I was born for it, but I definitely worked my butt off to get to this point. I mean, I guess you could say I was born for it," Thompson said while laughing. "I guess everything happens for a reason. That felt good, to be honest. I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could tonight. Probably sounded more vocal than I usually am. When your back's against the wall, if your shot's not falling, you can always control your passion and how hard you play. Usually when I do that, it trickles over to other aspects of my game."
Thompson, who displayed several raw-emotion moments seldom seen from him, also contributed six rebounds and four steals. He hadn't registered four steals in a game since December 2016, and it was the most he has ever accumulated in a postseason game.
"The most important thing I think Klay did tonight was his defense," Draymond Green told ESPN. "He changed the game for us definitely, getting into the ball and which in turn allowed us to get loose offensively. It's ironic how that happens. Play some defense, get out in transition, get some easy looks, and all of a sudden the dam breaks and we can really get into our offense. I think the most important thing he did tonight was what he did defensively."
On this night, there was no hesitation on Thompson's part. According to Second Spectrum, on seven of his made 3-pointers, he released the ball within one second of touching it. That's the most such instances in a game over the past five postseasons.
"I think Klay doesn't worry too much about repercussions. He doesn't worry about judgment and results. I think he just loves to play," Kerr said. "He's so comfortable in his own skin. I just think he wants to go out there and hoop, and he doesn't worry about much else. So the pressure doesn't seem to bother him much. He just competes and plays. As I said, the two-way ability of this guy hounding the MVP of the league, most likely [Rockets guard James Harden], all game, and continuing to rain down 3-pointers, he's amazing."
Thompson said he wasn't always so worry-free.
"I used to be so hard on myself, especially early in my career," he said. "I remember one time actually losing a game against the Nuggets and leaving the arena in my uniform I was so mad. I learned, as I get older, if you play with passion, you play hard, and you leave the game saying I gave everything I have tonight in those 48 minutes, you can live with the result."
Stephen Curry supplied 29 points with five 3s, and Kevin Durant provided 23 points and seven boards. It was the most points scored in these playoffs in a single game by the trio of Thompson, Curry and Durant.
Durant was asked whether he remembered Thompson's Game 6 performance from two years ago, when he was a member of the Thunder.
"Next question," the 6-foot-11 forward promptly said.
Curry jumped in, saying, "I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory," referring to the fact that the Warriors lost the NBA Finals in 2016 after being up 3-1 on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors were down as many as 17 in the second quarter but went into the break staring at a 10-point deficit. The defending champs believed they were in a good position.
"They hit 11 3s and we're only down 10? We'll take that," Green said. "We felt good about where we were at that time. We didn't need to yell at each other or anything like that. We knew what we were up against. It was just time to go out there and take control of the game."
Without Thompson's heroics, the results might have been totally different. His teammates are grateful that his production helped keep their season alive.
"That's why he is who he is," Curry said. "He's kind of numb to the environment. He's excited to play basketball, whether it's Game 2 of the regular season or Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. Just, he's confident in himself and what he can do out on the floor on both ends. He's never seen a shot he doesn't like. So when you have that kind of recipe mixed in, good things do happen, usually at the right time."