The Cleveland Cavaliers are expecting Tristan Thompson to return from his strained left calf next week and coach Tyronn Lue sounds as if he will bring the big man off the bench, rather than re-inserting him into the starting lineup.
The Cavs have won 11 straight and are 15-3 with Kevin Love starting at center. The team is in a great rhythm right now, so easing Thompson back in slowly and having him run with the bench is the smart move, given how stellar the offense has looked without him.
“We’ll see,” Lue told reporters about Thompson starting or being a reserve. “It’s been our routine and guys are getting in a pretty good rhythm putting in the work. Guys are coming in, getting their shots up, getting their treatment and getting out.
“It’s really about the guys that are putting in the work. They’ve been putting in the work every single day, on off days they come in and continue to work. Right now we’re going to keep our same flow and stay with it. Hey, we’re 15-3 with Kevin starting at center.”
Thompson has been out of action since the start of November. He’s played in eight games this season (five starts) and is averaging 4.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.
The Cavs’ spacing becomes virtually non-existent when Thompson is on the floor with LeBron James. Love has been flourishing in his role and taking full advantage of the increased floor spacing in Thompson’s absence.
Over Love’s last 15 games, he’s putting up 19.3 points while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three. Opposing centers, while they have bullied Love in the post, have not been able to recover to the three-point line and contest Love’s shots — a big reason why Lue wants to stick with the current lineup.