Home Sports Will a non-existent Tristan Thompson continue to plague the Cavs?

Will a non-existent Tristan Thompson continue to plague the Cavs?

9 min read
0
0
68



	
				
			Will a non-existent Tristan Thompson continue to plague the Cavs?

Want Warriors news in your inbox? Sign up for the free DubsDaily newsletter.

OAKLAND – Tristan Thompson didn’t mince words describing his Game 1 performance.

“Trash,” the Cleveland Cavaliers center said before reiterating the disappointment with his disappearing act.

“Trash.”

He was virtually non-existent on the boards in the first two quarters, recording zero rebounds by halftime as the Warriors rolled to a 113-91 victory.

Thompson registered zero points on 0-for-3 shooting, totaled four rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes. His absence became such a problem that Cavs coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to bench him in favor of Cleveland’s smaller offensive lineup in the third quarter.

But it’s not so much his lack of scoring that’s the problem. Golden State set the tone physically early, and Cleveland’s top rim protector was nowhere to be found.

Draymond Green, Thompson’s primary defensive assignment, put Thompson in an awkward spot with his spacing. Then there were times that the Cavaliers’ 6-foot-9, 238 pound center neutralized himself by letting Green have his way on the glass by not battling for rebounds.

Thompson’s harsh self-criticism is telling of where his focus is entering Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday at Oracle Arena.

“Playing against the Warriors, you can’t just play hard,” he said. “You have to play hard to a level where it’s past the thermostat. It’s a different level with this team. I have to be reminded that against this team, you have to go balls out.”

Thompson’s expertise as an offensive rebounder is one of Cleveland’s most prized assets. He has averaged over three offensive rebounds per game during his six years with the Cavaliers. Thompson has finished among the NBA top 10 offensive rebounds for five consecutive seasons.

Those extra possessions became critical in Cleveland’s crusade to come back from a 3-1 deficit last year and beat the Warriors in seven games.

That gives the Cavaliers confidence that their monster offensive rebounder will show up in Game 2.

“They’re doing a good job hitting him with two or three bodies to keep him off the offensive glass,” Lue said. “But with him running the floor, with his will, with his passion for the game, he’s going to be fine. We’re not worried about Tristan.”

Golden State center JaVale McGee said after Game 1 that the Warriors strategy on Thompson wasn’t necessarily aimed at trying to outrebound him. Rather, the point was to stay in front of him, box him out and take away the spark he provides on the glass.

Asked about that strategy Saturday, Thompson didn’t disagree.

“He’s saying if he (McGee) doesn’t get the rebound, at least I don’t get the rebound,” Thompson said. “I get where he’s coming from with that. (Sunday) I’ve got to be better and just be extra active. Even if that means I have to tip the ball out to my teammates, so be it.”

With a deep rotation at center, Golden State can throw a multitude of matchups at Thompson.

The problems start with a bruiser like Zaza Pachulia and don’t get any easier when arguably the best defender in the league (Green) can cover so much ground at 6-foot-6 and sparks the Warriors in transition.

“I think their frontcourt got better,” Thompson said. “They have gotten more athletic.

“(Andrew) Bogut was good for them. He was blocking shots and he was also a facilitator for them, almost another point guard on the floor. So you gain something, you lose something. (McGee) has done a good job for them, but we have to make sure that we take away his energy. Don’t let him get those energy blocks or those dunks early. And for Zaza, we have to keep him off the glass. When we set screens, free up our guards so they can attack him one-on-one.”

Cleveland had little offensive flow early in Game 1 and too often relied on quick jump shots. It set Thompson up for failure because he was setting high screens for those for those mid-range shots which led to him being nowhere near the basket to pull down the offensive rebound.

Thompson also wasn’t getting back on defense to be the rim protector that Cleveland so desperately needed. Golden State outscored Cleveland 56-30 in the paint.

Thompson takes pride in being the last line of defense for Cleveland after recording a career-high 84 blocks in the regular season. The Cavs need their rim protector back, and Thompson is ready to reassert himself in the paint.

“It’s going to be a wrestling match, like WWE down there,” Thompson said. “It might not show up in the first quarter or the second quarter, but as the game goes on you’ve got to wear their bigs down. In the third quarter, fourth quarter, we start getting those big offensive rebounds that change the game. That’s my approach for (Game 2).”

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Angelina Scott
Load More In Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Sharks ‘surviving’ injury woes, could see two wingers back soon

SAN JOSE — The Sharks feel they’ll have four forward lines that can generate o…