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How Tristan Thompson's ability to run the floor impacted Game 6

Tristan Thompson's ability to run the floor and hit the right spots helped take the Cavs' offense up a notch.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Tristan Thompson's performance in Game 6 was him at his best. He didn't do anything flashy, but he worked and worked and worked - and then worked some more - to push the Warriors to their brink. With Kevin Love in foul trouble and again a non-factor, Thompson played 43 minutes - the same number as LeBron James - and did everything he needed to do for the Cavs to force a Game 7.

As usual, the roles Thompson filled were the ones that aren't glamorous. He stepped out on the Warriors' guards on switches and prevented easy layups. He set amazing screens that opened up the floor for his teammates and he gobbled up rebounds. But he also ran the floor incredibly well, constantly finding the rights spots and compromising Golden State's defenses in the process. In Game 6, Thompson was 6-6 from the field and and took four free throws. All of his attempts came right at the rim and as a direct result to how he ran the floor with a clear destination in mind.

Here, for instance, Thompson simply beats Festus Ezeli down the floor and gets to the rim. While LeBron James did drop a time, Thompson made it possible by just getting to that point and taking Ezeli out of the play with sheer hustle.

Later, against the Warriors' 'Death Lineup', Thompson made a similar play and took advantage of Draymond Green staring down LeBron James on the wing. When that happened, Thompson had a clear run to the rim and and scored an easy two points off a lob from LeBron.

The beauty of Thompson's ability lies in the subtle chaos it creates. With Andrew Bogut out and Ezeli not playing at a high level in the playoffs, Thompson is too quick and really works too hard to be fully contained. When the Cavs speed up as they did in the first clip, he becomes the ideal running mate for LeBron. He'll probably get past Ezeli and if someone is there to meet him at the rim, it'll be a guard who will get dunk and/or send Thompson to the line. And if it's slowed enough, LeBron and Thompson can always run a quick pick and roll as the Warriors' defense settles in. That play was highly effective in Game 6 and the Cavs should lean on it some in Game 7.

Against the death lineup, Thompson can give Green fits when he's moving. Green is a great small ball center and a great defender, but it's a lot to ask him to cover the paint against inevitable LeBron and Kyrie Irving drives while also trying to keep Thompson from effectively crashing the offensive glass. And when the Cavs push, and he looks away for a second with no Bogut to bail him out, Thompson can get to the rim with ease.

In Game 7, Thompson is probably the Cavs' third most important player behind James and Irving. He'll need to play around 43 minutes again, filling the roles he normally does while also running the floor and impacting the game like he did in Game 6.