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Last week’s big NBA to-do featured LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. It did not involve Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson.
James, Love and Irving were all held out to rest in Wednesday’s loss at Memphis. The decision drew some loud complaints from fans (mostly those of the Grizzlies) and critics (most of which reside outside of Cleveland).
But Thompson played. Just like he always does. Just like he has in every regular-season game since Feb. 10, 2012.
That’s 395 in a row, the longest streak in franchise history and the longest of anyone currently in the NBA.
Neither Thompson nor Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has said much about the idea of Thompson resting. Such talk has always centered on the Big Three.
Lue respects the streak, and Thompson cherishes it. The thought of ending it is never even broached.
How much does Thompson value his run of consecutive games?
Enough that he was determined not to allow a 2015 contract stalemate to drag into the regular season. Thompson’s mother even weighed in during the negotiations — indicating she would’ve been looking for answers had her son’s streak ended because of a squabble over dollars.
But money didn’t end Thompson’s ride and neither will rest.
Thompson plays hurt, he plays with tons of energy, he defers to teammates, he throws his 6-foot-9 frame into larger centers and goes and gets the rebound, no questions asked.
Even when Thompson is expected to take it easy during a game, he doesn’t. Early reports said Lue planned to play his center around 5 or 6 minutes against Memphis. That way Thompson could get a little rest, but keep the streak alive.
Instead, he was on the floor for 28 minutes.
It’s true he’s scoring a career-low 6.6 points, but that’s probably because the likes of James, Irving and especially Love have been more efficient.
So Thompson is just doing even more of the dirty work — pulling down a career-high 10.0 boards. Oh, he’s also blocking more shots than ever, swatting away 1.3 per game, double his average from last season.
Thompson is 25 years old and played all the way to June each of the previous two seasons, as the Cavs reached the finals both times. He also started for Team Canada in the Olympic qualifying tournament in early July.
He has every reason to take a night off, but you can be sure the Cavs won’t ask. Clearly, resting is just not the Thompson way.
1. Speaking of rebounding, Lue would like to see the Cavs (19-6) step up their game a little on the boards. They’re currently 16th in the league at 44.2 per game.
2. Then again, it’s hard to rebound when you’re making shots. At 110.4 points a game, the Cavs are fourth in the NBA.
3. James leads the Cavs in scoring (25.0), assists (9.0) and field-goal percentage (51.7).
4. The Cavs partake in another of those home-and-home matchups this week. They visit Milwaukee on Tuesday, only to play the Bucks again the next night at The Q.