Cleveland Cavaliers still benefitting from Tristan Thompson — even with him in Boston

BOSTON — The text message comes to Darius Garland’s phone around the same time before nearly every game. It’s from Garland’s “big brother” Tristan Thompson, who used to deliver those same words of encouragement in person, from one locker away.

Stay aggressive. Keep your head up. Stay confident in your game. Make your teammates better.

Thompson isn’t in Cleveland anymore. He signed a two-year deal with the Boston Celtics this past offseason, ending his nine-year run with the Cavaliers, going from scrawny (by NBA standards) teenager with a baby-faced chinstrap to NBA iron man, champion, respected veteran and consummate professional — the team’s heartbeat and a franchise legend.

That hasn’t stopped him from mentoring the Cavs’ improving second-year guard from afar. Their connection, which began even before the organization drafted Garland with the fifth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, won’t be splintered because Thompson is more than 600 miles away.

“TT is like a big brother to me. He texts me before like almost every game.” Garland told from his hotel room Saturday night, less than 24 hours ahead of his first game against Thompson. “He took me under his wing. TT has made his name in this league. He’s won a championship in this league. He knows what to do and how to get there. It’s what I want. I want to win championships. Just hearing from him and having another guy I can talk to instead…

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