Tristan Thompson’s left-handed swat on Derrick Rose’s fourth-quarter floater was so emphatic that the ball rocketed 20 toes in the other way and allowed Jaylen Brown to race out for a transition layup in what had been a one-possession recreation.
That Thompson was even on the ground coming into crunch time and had the stamina to provide the loudest of his three blocks on the evening was noteworthy. Thompson had missed the previous three weeks after what he would later time period a 12-round battle with COVID.
On an evening the Celtics wanted a little bit of a pick-me-up, Thompson produced possibly his most interesting outing in inexperienced. He completed with 7 factors and eight rebounds over 22 minutes however was a team-best plus-24 in plus/minus and set the defensive tone for a crew that’s sorely lacked consistency on that finish of the ground this season.
For this week’s version of the Forsberg 4 — watch the video model on Celtics Submit-Up — we honed in on a number of the extra notable numbers for Thompson whereas pondering simply how a lot he might help this crew down the stretch.
That was Boston’s defensive ranking with Thompson on the ground on Wednesday evening. That was 30.4 factors per 100 possessions higher than Boston’s already shiny 103.1 defensive ranking for the sport.
Single-game rankings could be idiot’s gold so we determined to rewind and embrace Thompson’s final 5 video games earlier than he entered well being and security protocols to get a greater thought of how his protection has impacted Boston these days. The Celtics personal a defensive ranking of 95.7 in Thompson’s 124 minutes of flooring time over his final six video games. That’s 15.9 factors per 100 possessions higher than their Sixteenth-ranked defensive ranking for the season.
To place it one other approach, a Celtics crew that has struggled mightily to play with any kind of defensive consistency this season has operated at an elite degree with Thompson on the ground these days.
That’s what Knicks gamers shot in opposition to Thompson on Wednesday evening, making simply 2 of 14 photographs, per the league’s matchup information. RJ Barrett was the one participant to attain on Thompson, who allowed 8 whole factors over 29.3 partial possessions defended. He added a steal to his three blocks.
During the last six video games, Thompson has restricted opponents to 35.7 % taking pictures total (20 of 56). That’s 9.5 % under these gamers’ anticipated discipline purpose proportion.
Thompson’s defensive discipline purpose proportion firstly of the yr was an eyesore however he’s been way more impactful within the second half of the season.
That’s Thompson’s plus/minus in his final six appearances. He’s averaging 9 factors, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists over 20.6 minutes per recreation in that span. The Celtics are 5-1 in these video games.
Early within the season, Boston’s clunky double-big lineups, usually that includes Thompson and Daniel Theis, struggled to positively affect profitable. With Boston’s depth chart thinned out and the Celtics leaning on extra acquainted single-big lineups, Thompson’s affect has been extra noticeable.
That’s the full variety of days that Thompson has misplaced this season whereas in wholesome and security protocols. It’s the second highest whole within the league, in line with COVID monitoring by Fansure.
The ultimate 20 video games are an opportunity for Thompson and the Celtics to develop some much-needed chemistry and cohesion. Whilst Robert Williams blossom with a heavier workload, there are 20-24 minutes an evening accessible for Thompson to depart his mark. And it’s gotta begin on the defensive finish and on the glass.
“My entire factor is being wholesome when it issues,” Thompson mentioned after Wednesday’s win, dismissing how Boston lingers seventh within the Jap Convention and can be within the play-in recreation if the season ended at the moment. “After all, for us, we have have not had a wholesome squad. Including Fournier, him out together with his security protocols, so we haven’t had full well being. So I believe regular-season issues when it comes to simply constructing chemistry however that is s—’s out the window once we get to playoffs.”
Thompson’s early season struggles left many panning Danny Ainge’s greatest offseason splurge. Some lamented how Boston basically selected signing Thompson utilizing the complete worth of the midlevel over probably pursuing Myles Turner when Gordon Hayward was pondering his subsequent vacation spot.
Thompson nonetheless has maddening habits, like typically having blinders after amassing considered one of his many offensive rebounds, then making an attempt to drive up putbacks as an alternative of spraying the ball out to shooters. However his championship expertise and veteran management may very well be tremendous essential to a younger crew that’s playoff path will probably be exponentially tougher due to their regular-season woes.
Thompson’s protection has been stable these days however historical past suggests he’s not any kind of Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo stopper. Nonetheless, the Celtics want him to tackle these challenges and supply a bodily back-line presence in opposition to these kind of bigs. Williams struggled mightily to play with out fouling when Embiid shredded the Celtics the evening earlier than Thompson’s return his this week.
Requested what Thompson can convey, Celtics guard Marcus Sensible mentioned: “Extra toughness, extra vitality. He brings that vitality. He actually controls the boards for us, and he does a very good job at it. He does a very good job at getting us additional possessions, does a very good job of defending us once we make errors on the defensive finish. After which, on the offensive finish, he does a very good job at getting us these additional photographs and discovering guys and doing what he does greatest. So it’s nice to have a man like Tristan.”