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.