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Raptors’ desperate Hack-A-Tristan Thompson strategy in Game 1 vs. Cavs fails

Tristan Thompson

Facing a large deficit in Monday’s Game 1 matchup of the Eastern Conference Semifinals inside a hostile Quicken Loans Arena, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey elected to try a desperate strategy.

Normally, the Raptors defense is solid. Last night, however, it was not. At one point in the game, the Cavaliers were leading by 25 points. As a result, coach Casey instructed his team to begin intentionally fouling Cavs forward Tristan Thompson, who shot a career-low 49.8 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season. A lot of teams around the NBA utilize a similar strategy, and it often works.

Thompson weighed in on the strategy after the game, via Chris Fedor of cleveland.com:

“I am not surprised, especially in the playoffs,” Thompson said of the strategy. “Teams are going to throw that at you and try to junk up the game a little bit. I just got to get up there and knock them down and keep practicing in practice. Try not to be a liability out there.”

Late in the third quarter, Patrick Patterson intentionally fouled Thompson, sending him to the line. With his team up 16 points, Thompson, who went 3-of-7 in Cleveland’s first-round series against the Indiana Pacers, buried both of his free-throw attempts.

Thompson had the perfect two-word description of his free throws:

“Free money,” Thompson said during his post-game media availabilty. “Just have to go up there and knock ’em down. Free money. That’s how I view it.

“That’s why in practice I try to make sure I get enough just to get the rhythm and the feel because if they do go to that you have to go up there and make them,” Thompson continued. “Don’t try to think too much. Stick with your rhythm and shoot the ball. Just go up there and shoot your shot.”

The Raptors gave up on fouling Thompson after he sank the pair. “Double T,” as Thompson is known, finished with a 5-of-6 mark from the charity stripe. According to cleveland.com, that’s the best percentage he has shot in a game with more than two attempts since late January, when he went 5-of-5 in a double-digit win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

If Thompson can continue knocking down his free-throws, coach Casey and the Raptors will have to think twice before going to the “Hack-a-Thompson” strategy.

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