For the 21st time in his nine-year career, Canadian Tristan Thompson will play in front of his hometown crowd when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Toronto Raptors Monday night.
For the first time, there will be an NBA championship banner hanging in the Scotiabank Arena rafters.
Ahead of the game, Thompson was asked about what the Raptors' title meant, to which he responded with a sense of national pride: "It was huge for the city, huge for the country, in general. Toronto basketball's on the rise."
The 28-year-old continued with a quip based on his personal history with the franchise, adding that "it was great with Kawhi and it was especially huge for Kyle, just because I know how many times we'd beat up on him in the playoffs."
Of course, Thompson is referencing the three playoff series in which the Cavaliers eliminated the Raptors. Of the 20 times, he has taken the floor in Toronto, seven were in the postseason; he and the Cavs are 5-2 in such games.
Last season, Lowry and the Raptors were able to get over the proverbial hump to earn their first title, though the Cavs were not one of the teams that stood in the way as they failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2014.
This year, Toronto is out to a 17-8 start, while Cleveland is 6-20 through 26 games.
The past is the past, and while Thompson made reference to his postseason history with Toronto, he maintains that his focus is on the task at hand, "I'm happy for them, they deserved it and now we're gonna try to get a win tonight."
Thompson is averaging a career-high 13.1 points and 9.8 rebounds through 25 games this season. He and the Cavaliers will try to get that win as they take on the Raptors at 7:30 p.m. ET on SN1.
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