Tristan Thompson on subbing in to guard Joel Embiid on final play of regulation: ‘Do what I do’

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers veteran big man Tristan Thompson shared his mindset when he was subbed in to guard Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid on the final possession of regulation on Tuesday night.

Cleveland subbed the former first-round pick into the game for guard Darius Garland for defensive purposes late in the fourth quarter. Thompson helped force a missed jump shot by Embiid, sending the game to overtime.

That ended up being huge for the Cavs, as they went on to win 122-119 against the Sixers.

“Do what I do,” Thompson told about guarding Embiid on the final possession of regulation. “I’ve been doing it a long time. I’ve guarded MVPs, Hall of Famers, top point scorer in league history. I’ve guarded everyone. So, it’s another matchup to go out there and do what I have to do for my team to win. Coach believed in me. Moved them puppies and do what I do.”

Embiid is the league’s reigning MVP, and he gave the Cavs some trouble on Tuesday night, scoring 32 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out five assists. He also had five blocks.

However, the Cavs did hold him to just 9-for-21 shooting from the field in the game, and Thompson’s defense on that final possession of the fourth was one reason why.

Thompson didn’t play a ton of minutes on Tuesday night, but he had a plus/minus of plus-4 in the team’s three-point win. He made an impact for Cleveland, making his lone shot from the field. He finished with two points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. Thompson did miss both of his free-throw attempts, however.

After Cavs big man Evan Mobley picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter, Thompson had a bit of a bigger role.

In 12 appearances (no starts) so far this season, Thompson is averaging 9.1 minutes per game for the Cavs and shooting 68.8 percent from the field. He’s putting up 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

It’s great that the Cavs have a veteran big man with the experience that Thompson has as an NBA champion.

Thompson played in several high-leverage situations during the Cavs’ title runs in LeBron James’ second stint with the team several seasons ago. It is what allows him to step up in big moments for the Cavs like he did on Tuesday night.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.