Tristan Thompson On Track to Suit Up for Opening Night

Tristan Thompson is on track to make his Celtics debut Wednesday night after missing Boston’s only two preseason games due to a hamstring strain.

The veteran center has been ramping up his activity in practice over the last few days and was “feeling good” following Wednesday morning’s shootaround at Auerbach Center, indicating that he could see some live-game action later in the day when the Celtics take on the Milwaukee Bucks.

“In terms of playing tonight, I’ve got to go through my routine, make sure I check all the boxes with the training staff, but things are looking like they’re going in the right direction,” Thompson said after shootaround. “Of course, we’ve got to see when I go through the warmup and they run the tests on the hammy to make sure it clears all the protocols they have on the boxes, and then if it does, hopefully I’ll be able to suit up tonight.”

Thompson has been licking his chops to get back out onto the court, probably even more so than his new teammates. Unlike most members of the team, Thompson didn’t get the opportunity to play in the NBA bubble given that his former Cleveland Cavaliers team didn’t make the cut. So, it’s safe to say that the veteran center is eager to finally return to the game he loves.

“My last game was March 9th against the Spurs, so it's been over nine, ten months without competitive basketball. So I'm itching, I'm excited,” said Thompson, who averaged 12.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game last season. “Obviously with this long layoff for myself, after a while you get a little crazy and you get kind of bored doing the same thing, whether it's working out with your trainer in the weight room or on the court. It's about time to get some live action so I'm excited about that.”

As for how much action he gets right off the bat, Thompson will likely be limited. C’s coach Brad Stevens said Tuesday that the newcomer will almost certainly placed on a minutes restriction early on in order to ease the 29-year-old back into the swing of things, taking into account both his injury and his lack of game action over the last three quarters of a year.

And once he’s back in full swing, Thompson says he will take on any role that the team asks of him, even if it means playing with the second unit.

“In terms of starting or coming off the bench, at the end of the day I'm about winning,” said Thompson, who has been a starter for nearly 70 percent of his career appearances. “I'm about how I can win and be an asset to this team to be successful. Whatever position coach wants me to be in, I accept any role. And I've done it before, whether it's starting and playing at a high level or coming off the bench to be productive, I've done it at the highest of highs. Whatever Coach Stevens wants me to do to help this team win and play at our max potential, I'm all about that.”

In order for the Celtics to reach their maximum potential, they’ll need Thompson healthy and ready to contribute. All that’s left for him to do in order to achieve such status Wednesday night is to finish off his game-day routine, which includes an afternoon nap and a pregame meal, before checking off those final hamstring tests.

“Hopefully everything goes well,” Thompson said, “and I have a chance to go out there and compete tonight.”

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