What Coach Tyronn Lue said of Tristan Thompson might finally be coming true for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a whole: "We know what he does, and we know what he brings, and he knows who he is.”
Thompson came up with two huge offensive rebounds on a crucial possession in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers closed out game one over the Atlanta Hawks.
The two boards sucked all the life out of Atlanta’s comeback attempt. After the game, Lue commented on Thompson’s seven offensive rebounds.
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He said: “When teams play great defence for 24 seconds and he comes up with those (offensive) rebounds, it’s just demoralizing to a team because now they have to come out and guard us again.”
If you had to pick one adjective to describe the Cleveland Cavaliers’ victory, it would have to be resilient. The Cavs were tested in the opening encounter of their Eastern Conference Semi-final series with the Atlanta Hawks.
They have had numerous bouts of uncertainty during this season. The team has been frustrated by numerous injuries along with the specter of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. But, during this game, they stuck to their guns.
LeBron James knows that the road to the NBA Finals will not be easy and that there will be games like tonight where Cleveland has to adjust.
He said of their correction process: “The best thing about our team is that we will make adjustments going into game two and we’ll learn from what we could have done much better."
The defending Eastern Conference champions know that they cannot afford to sleepwalk during any of their playoff efforts. Every possession is needed in the postseason to ensure there are no slip-ups in their pursuit of a first championship for the organisation.
Thompson embodies this relentlessness. When asked about why he was so effective against the Hawks, he offered:" For me, it is just staying relentless on the glass. Maybe in the first half, I only have two offensive rebounds, but I’m just going to keep hitting the glass every possession."
Both Kevin Love and Thompson had double-digit rebounds, with 11 and 14 respectively. Meanwhile, the rest of the Cavaliers’ ensemble had it going from deep. They shot 48 percent from behind the arc in game one.
Lue had this to say about their demeanour: “I’m proud of my team. When things got tough, we stuck with it and were able to win the game.”
If anything, this game provides the Cavs with a reminder of the long road they have in front of them to win an NBA championship. They are following Thompson’s lead and figuring themselves out too.