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OAKLAND — Khloe Kardashian tried to get her man going. She made Tristan Thompson some Cavaliers cookies – some shortbread or sugar cookies with icing decorated into Cleveland’s jerseys. She showed Thompson’s No. 13 burgundy jersey with gold piping. She did it to cheer him up after the Game 1 loss in which he didn’t play well.
Maybe next time, she should do a cake. Because Tristan Thompson was a non-factor in Game 2 as well. The Warriors racked up a 132-113 win over Cleveland, taking a 2-0 lead in The Finals by playing at a frenetic pace.
It’s a trap, playing fast against the Warriors. But the Cavaliers don’t have much of a choice. Their only big man, is being shut out.
Once a thorn in the side of the Warriors, Thompson has become the most disappointing Cavalier. And most of it is because Zaza Pachulia is owning Thompson.
The Cavaliers’ big man, known for crashing the glass with reckless abandon, has been neutralized by the Warriors. Pachulia is physical enough to wrestle with Thompson and keep him from hurting the Warriors on the boards. And Thompson isn’t much of an offensive player outside of offensive rebounds, which means he becomes a liability as the Cavs try to keep place.
Cleveland was outscored by seven in just eight first-quarter minutes, all with Pachulia on the court. The Cavs were outscored by six in Tristan’s next stretch of minutes, 5:07 of the third quarter.
All total, Thompson was -18 in in 21 minutes of action, posting eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. He has been able to do nothing against Pachulia. And even in his minutes with Pachulia off the floor, Thompson met his match in David West.
Without Tristan Thompson having an impact, the Cavaliers can’t punish the Warriors inside. They’ve had success in the past slowing down the Warriors and playing them physically. Thompson was a big part of that.
But he didn’t play at all in the second quarter, and was pulled relatively early in the third quarter. With no other big man, the Cavaliers were forced to go small and play at the Warriors pace. It is burning out LeBron and rending Kyrie Irving less effective without the halfcourt set to thrive in.
Pachulia, and West, have negated Tristan Thompson’s impact and in the process forced Cleveland to try to outscore the Warriors. They even brought in Channing Frye, who had a DNP in Game 1 and played scarcely last year. Frye, a 3-point shooting big man, doesn’t give the Cavaliers much by way of toughness. But he is at least an offensive threat, which Thompson is not. As a counter, the Warriors started going small, putting a wing player on Frye, and speed up the Cavaliers.
It all started with Pachulia taking Tristan Thompson out of the game. The cookies didn’t work.