Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson is one key to beating the Celtics in Game 7 of the ECF

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 18: Tristan Thompson
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 18: Tristan Thompson /

The most important Cleveland Cavaliers player not named LeBron James that will help them get to the NBA Finals is Tristan Thompson

The Eastern Conference Finals comes to an end tonight in Boston. Cleveland was able to force a Game 7 with a 10-point victory on Friday night. The winner faces the Western Conference winner that will be decided on Monday.

There has not been any game decided by less than nine points this series. Five of the games have been well decided before the final buzzard has decided. Each team has protected their homecourt.

It seems that would give the early advantage to the Celtics. The Cavs are no stranger to overcoming tough games to advance. They defeated a tough Indiana Pacers team in 7 games to advance in this year’s playoffs.

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LeBron James has made it a habit of taking a team of role players and putting them on his back to win. This series has been no different with James had been his typical playoff self by being the best player on the floor.

Kevin Love has been ruled out of Game 7 due to a concussion he received on Friday night when he and Jayson Tatum collided. In order to win, there has to be a few players step up and play a bigger role for the Cavs.

The player who needs to step up the most for Cleveland is Tristan Thompson. Thompson is not a player who is going to give the team huge box score numbers. He is going to do many of the little things that do not show up in final stats.

Thompson gives the Cavs a defensive presence on the inside. He makes the lane a tougher place to navigate for the Boston players. Thompson is also quick enough to slow Boston guards when they attack off the dribble. This will give the Cavs more rim protection when Boston runs the pick-and-roll.

When it comes to rebounding, Thompson is relentless going after missed shots. He is averaging 2.5 offensive rebounds per game. Even when he does not get the rebound he will try to tap the ball out to another Cavs player. Each offensive rebound leads to extra opportunities for LeBron James to score.

The plus-minus statistic is a true sign that when Thompson plays well then Cavs also play well. In each Cavs victory over Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals Tristan Thompson has averaged a positive 11.2 plus-minus for the game. In Cleveland losses, he has been at a negative 11 plus-minus. When Thompson plays well the team has a better chance to win the game.

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The Eastern Conference is going to get their representative for the NBA Finals after tonight’s Cavs/Celtics game. Expect a tough, hard nosed battle between both teams. It is going to be a game that will require great play from roles players like Tristan Thompson for the Cavs to make another NBA Finals appearance.