Reliability and consistency are two words that are frequently associated with Tristan Thompson. After coming into the league as a raw, energy player, Thompson has found his place as an effective role player.
The reliability he brings to the game isn’t just with his play, but with his availability. He had played 447 consecutive games prior to a thumb injury forcing him to sit for four of the final five games of the regular season.
With the streak in the past, Thompson opened up to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com about the end of the streak:
Playing every game since 2012, to get about a week off was definitely big for me especially because what my role is and what I bring to the team is energy and playing at a high level at both ends.
Knowing I've got another nine more years I've got to play consecutive games to (catch) A.C. Green, he can have it.
He can have it," Thompson said. "At the end of the day, I've got to do what's best for our team. And for our team it's for me to be 100 percent and be at a high level for us when it comes to the postseason.
It was evident that prior to Thompson sitting, the wear and tear of his streak was catching up to him. He had just had two runs to the NBA Finals, plus played for Team Canada this past summer. His mobility appeared limited, likely a result of the tendinitis in his knee. For a player that relies on outworking the opposition, a blow to his mobility truly limits his effectiveness.
The lapse in effectiveness appears to be a temporary one. Thompson looking himself against the Indiana Pacers was probably one of the brightest spots from that series. While it was evident that the team still had a ways to go, Thompson looked spry and was able to once again switch onto wings in the pick and roll.
Losing Thompson’s mobility and defensive versatility would have likely been a death blow to the team’s title hopes. LeBron James can get you into any series, but it’s on Thompson, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love to take the team to the next level.
With the streak no longer a concern, Thompson will likely rest in the future alongside the big three. He has proven his durability, now the key is making sure that he is healthy and rested when the team needs him the most. From the four games off, to the week off after the sweep of the Pacers, Thompson should be fresh and ready to go for whoever they face next round.