Tristan Thompson who was barely playing when the postseason began, has become an important part of the Cavaliers’ quest to reach the NBA Finals, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. After Al Horford‘s huge performance in Game 1, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue made a lineup change, swapping Thompson for Kyle Korver and giving the Cavs a bigger player to match up with Horford, who managed just seven points in 30 minutes Saturday.
“I wanted that matchup from the beginning,” Thompson said. “I feel like for me as a big, my job is to match up against whoever their best big is and make it tough for him. From the beginning of the series I knew that Al Horford was going to be my matchup regardless of when and it’s on me to try to cool him down and make it tough for him this series.”
It’s a moment of triumph at the end of a frustrating season for Thompson, who averaged career lows in minutes (20.2) and points (5.8). He still has two years and roughly $36MM left on his contract.
There’s more from the Central Division:
- Veteran center Kendrick Perkins is thrilled to be on a title-contending team again after nearly two full seasons out of the league, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The 33-year-old couldn’t get an opportunity after finishing the 2015/16 season with the Pelicans. “It was tough,” he said. “Being away from the game is something I didn’t do by choice. I just didn’t get a call. I just worked out every day hoping to get a call. I was in Houston, and every day I’d get up and go to the gym. That’s about it. It was humbling and all type of stuff, but I always say God don’t make mistakes, so at the end of the day you’ve got to take the punches or whatever it is and just keep moving.”
- It’s surprising that Chauncey Billups wasn’t included on the list of potential front office candidates in Detroit, notes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. The former Pistons star, now an ESPN analyst, has been open about his desire to become an executive. Ellis writes that the organization prefers someone with experience in running a team, but states that if Billups does get hired he is likely to bring along former teammates such as Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Ben Wallace.
- New Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is eager for the challenge in Milwaukee, relays Matt Velazquez of The Journal-Sentinel. Budenholzer interviewed for several openings, but he was convinced the Bucks were the next logical step for him. “Very excited about the roster, excited about the things we can do together,” he said. “Obviously, Giannis [Antetokounmpo] is a special player, but I think the entire roster’s got a lot of great players — Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, you keep going down the list, Jabari [Parker], all the guys. I just think it’s a great opportunity for me, a great fit for me.”