INDEPENDENCE: Tristan Thompson pointed out the fundamental flaw in thinking that the familiarity brought by his return to the starting lineup will make a big difference for the fading Cavaliers.

The Cavs’ starting point guard is Isaiah Thomas, not Kyrie Irving, and the two are vastly different players.

“I guess you could say there’s familiarity, but a big piece that was part of our offense last year was Kyrie. IT is a part of our team now and they’re two different players,” Thompson said Thursday after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “Even though us four are still, we know each other, changing point guards, you’ve got to get used to that.”

On Thursday, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he was re-inserting Tristan Thompson as the starting center, a spot held by Kevin Love for all but four of the Cavs’ 46 games, moving Love back to his natural spot at power forward and sending Jae Crowder to the second unit.

“Jae has been playing good the last few games and it has nothing to do with Jae,” Lue said. “He’s been great. He’s all about the right things. You hate to make these changes. Not saying it’s permanent, but he’s about the team. Went and talked to him this morning and he said, ‘Whatever is best for the team. I’m all in.’ It was a great talk with him.”

The change will debut Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena against the Indiana Pacers, who are 3-0 against the Cavs this season. The Cavs, 27-19 and third in the Eastern Conference, have lost 10 of their past 13 games.

Lue said he considered other moves, with benching struggling shooting guard J.R. Smith the most obvious.

“Yeah, we thought about it,” Lue said of other changes. “It’s not a good time right now. Just see how this works first and go from there.”

Lue explained that not only should Thompson help the Cavs improve defensively, but playing with Thomas will help the 5-foot-9 guard in pick-and-rolls.

“Starting Tristan helps out IT in the pick-and-roll, it helps Kevin because they’re putting Kevin and IT in a lot of pick-and-rolls,” Lue said. “I think with Tristan out there guarding the 5 we won’t have to blitz as much. We can do a better job of doing our drops and play the pick-and-roll two-on-two. I think it helps with IT as far as setting screens, a guy who can roll so he can mix it up for IT and help get his shot off more. I think T-Top defensively will help us out a lot, too.”

As far as his perception of Thomas, who has played just eight games in his comeback from a torn labrum in his right hip, Thompson said, “For me, being at practice with IT, he shoots it so good from 3, he’s such a good shooter that if I set a good screen, forces the big to make a decision, it’s good for me and him. I think me and him in terms of our pick-and-roll relationship will be fine. We’ve gotta get together and jell as a unit.”

Lue said Love was also on board with the change, even though he earned a spot as an All-Star reserve with his performance at center.

“Talking to him today he said, ‘Good,’ ” Lue said of Love. “Offensively for him now, he can post more 4s. Get back to posting him more. If they switch 3-4 with him and Bron then we can post 3s also. I think it’s a good adjustment for us. Just have to see how it looks going forward.”

LeBron James downplayed how the move will change the team’s dynamics, saying, “We’re bringing in a guy who started for our team numerous games, so I don’t think that’s a big deal.”

But James can envision how Thompson and Thomas will work together.

“Offensively, he’s going to get Isaiah a little bit more room to work his pick-and-roll game with Double T being such a great screener and roller,” James said. “Defensively, [Thompson] is going to give us some more at the basket, hopefully, some shot-blocking, some more rebounding. He’s been pretty good for us.”

Thompson missed 19 games in November and December with a serious left calf injury, but said he’s now as good as he’s going to get at this point in the season.

“From us practicing the way we’ve been practicing and then playing games I think he’s a lot more fit, more active. I think it’s a good time to give him a start,” Lue said.

Thompson is averaging 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19.1 minutes in 26 games (five starts). Overall Thompson has started 321 of the 492 games he’s played for the Cavs.

“If coach wants me to play 15, 18, 25, 29 [minutes], I’m ready. My body’s built for whatever coach wants to put me through,” Thompson said.

“He wants me to … do what I’ve been doing, bring energy, play hard, set screens. I was starting before I got hurt, so starting again. I want to help this team get back on the right path. That’s all that matters.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.