Dan Feldman

Tristan Thompson ignites Cavaliers in Game 6 win

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Tristan Thompson was everywhere.

Yet, the Warriors couldn’t find him.

Thompson disrupted defensively and crashed the glass at every opportunity in the Cavaliers’ Game 6 win yesterday. He also snuck behind the Warriors’ defense to shoot 6-for-6.

“Like LeBron and Kyrie said, be a star in your role,” Thompson said.

Thompson sure was.

The Cleveland big man finished a game-high +32. Yes, playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had something to do that. But when it came to supporting the stars by doing the little things, Thompson truly starred in his role.

Thompson scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, joining a bunch of present/future/potential Hall of Famers – LeBron James,Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Bosh,Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol,Dwight Howard,Dirk Nowitzki,Ben Wallace, Shaquille O’Nealand Karl Malone – with a 15-15 Finals game in the last 20 years.

Thompson made all six of his shots, finishing at the rim when Golden State focused on more dangerous threats or just didn’t run hard enough. All six of his shots were assisted, five by LeBron. Five were dunks, and the other was a layup.

Thompson’s 6-for-6 performance is tied for the fourth-most shots with a perfect field-goal percentage recorded in a Finals game. Here’s every time someone shot at least 5-for-5 in a Finals game in Basketball-Reference.com‘s database (continuously back to 1982 and various games prior):

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As efficiently as Thompson shot, he was even better defensively.

His ability to switch onto Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the perimeter has played a key role in limiting the Splash Brothers. And Thompson still got back inside to grab defensive rebounds.

Thompson’s near-max contract drew scorn last summer from fans who didn’t understand the salary-cap landscape. The Cavaliers had no mechanism to replace Thompson with anyone nearly as good if they let him walk, and the skyrocketing cap will make Thompson’s deal look even more reasonable over its duration.

But forget all the nuance for a moment.

Thompson looked like a max player by any definition last night.

LeBron James just played best consecutive NBA Finals games in modern era

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Credit Michael Jordan for never having to do this.

He never fell behind 3-1 in the NBA Finals. He never faced a team as good as the 2016 Warriors – how could you build a team so great without without Jordan on it?

But Golden State did and built a 3-1 lead over the Cavaliers in these Finals. Cleveland’s back was against the wall, another season apparently headed toward disappointment.

Enter LeBron James.

Facing outsized and unfair expectations, LeBron exceeded them all. The numbers in the last two games are jaw-dropping: 82 points (56% field-goal percentage, 50% 3-point percentage), 24 rebounds, 18 assists, 7 steals, 6 blocks, +39. They also perfectly match what we’ve all seen: breathtaking offense and overwhelming defense.

LeBron has dominated consecutive Finals games in a way Jordan – and everyone else in this era – never did.

In Game 5, LeBron posted the third-highest game score (a stat designed to consolidate box-score numbers) in the Finals since 1983 (as far back as Basketball-Reference.com has data). In Game 6, LeBron posted the highest game score of the era.*

*No. 2 is Tim Duncan in Game 1 of the 2003 Finals.

LeBron’s combined game score (81.7) is – by far – the highest by an individual in consecutive Finals games.

Here’s every time someone posted a combined game score of at least 60 in consecutive Finals games since 1983:

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Obviously, the box score doesn’t capture everything. But, if anything, box scores have short-changed LeBron. They miss his attention-drawing offense, his defensive intimidation, his leadership on a less experienced team.

LeBron has put the Cavs on his back against a historically great opponent when there was no margin for error. Twice.

Both times, he has come out on top.

Jordan never had to do that, but LeBron did – and delivered.

Pistons trade Spencer Dinwiddie to Bulls for Cameron Bairstow

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 14: Aaron Brooks #0 of the Chicago Bulls fould Spencer Dinwiddie #8 of the Detroit Pistons during a preseason game at the United Center on October 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Pistons defeated the Bulls 114-91. Note to User: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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The Bulls have one point guard under contract for next season: Derrick Rose.

Whether or not they trade him, they still need depth at the position. So, they’ll give Spencer Dinwiddie a shot.

Pistons release:

The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has acquired forward Cameron Bairstow from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie and Bairstow both have unguaranteed salaries for next season. Dinwiddie’s partially guarantees Nov. 1, and Bairstow’s fully guarantees July 25. There’s a decent chance neither former second-rounder makes a regular-season roster.

Dinwiddie has made decent strides in everything but shooting, and his lack of a steady jumper cripples his game. He shot better in college before an ACL injury. If he re-finds his touch, he could be OK.

Bairstow has some raw skills as a stretch big, but his lack of NBA strength and athleticism holds him back.

Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr each fined $25,000

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Even for fines you knew were coming, the NBA acted mighty swiftly.

Stephen Curry (throwing his mouthpiece into the crowd) and Steve Kerr (running wild on the officiating) got tagged this morning.

NBA release:

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and head coach Steve Kerr have each been fined $25,000 for separate incidents, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Curry has been fined $25,000 for throwing his mouthpiece into the spectator stands.  The incident, which resulted in a technical foul and subsequent ejection for Curry, occurred with 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 115-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 6 of The Finals on June 16 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Kerr has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of the officiating during his press conference following the same game.

Curry’s punishment is exactly right. There’s strong precedent for getting fined for throwing a mouthpiece into the crowd and suspended for throwing it at a ref. Because Curry threw it at a fan, he gets the lesser penalty. The appropriateness of the line is debatable, but the NBA drew it clearly.

Kerr got his money’s worth. He was FAR more critical of the officiating than Tyronn Lue, who drew an identical fine for his criticism of the referees. Will this open the door for coaches to make their verbal attacks on officiating sharper? If the cost is the same, why not?

LeBron James blocks Stephen Curry, talks trash (video)

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LeBron James clearly wants to be known as the best player in the NBA.

His biggest threat: Stephen Curry, who has won back-to-back MVPs.

So, when LeBron blocked Curry’s shot in Game 6 of the Finals last night, the Cavaliers star made sure everyone – especially Curry – took notice.