Remember Tristan Thompson? The center's name has become more synonymous with celebrity scandal than with his play on the basketball court. Maybe he recognized that, because when it mattered most, he filled a physical void for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The defending Eastern Conference champions entered Sunday's pivotal Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers with their backs against the wall following a Game 6 blowout. Cleveland was in need of another savior to go with LeBron James: enter Thompson.

Cleveland gets their wish

Head coach Tyronn Lue rolled the dice on Sunday.

Despite the struggles coming from his former starting center - Thompson played an average of just four minutes in the first six games of the series - Lue decided to start him. He moved James to point guard and added JR Smith, Kyle Korver, and Kevin Love to the mix. The results paid off for Cleveland almost immediately.

In just eight minutes, Thompson emerged as a dominant interior presence, ready to neutralize a dynamic Pacers frontcourt. He scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds, while also dishing out an assist for good measure. The Cavaliers were fueled by his play, with fans giving him an ovation after he finally left the court for the first time. Moreover, Cleveland ended the first quarter with a double-digit advantage.

Perhaps if Thompson played with the kind of tenacity he started Sunday's game with all year, the Cavaliers wouldn't have found themselves in such a problematic predicament.

Thompson saving face

Play on a basketball court doesn't quite mitigate what takes place off it.

Over the past couple of weeks, Thompson has faced allegations of cheating multiple times on Khloe Kardashian, who was on the verge of giving birth when the reports emerged. Various reports in recent days suggest that the Cavaliers center is incensed about the hit his reputations has taken.

To save face in the city, he needs to play up to the level his contract demands.

Prior to this game, Thompson grabbed just six rebounds in the entire series, not the kind of results expected from one of the most decorated interior players among the two teams. The first quarter of Sunday's game began to change the perception of his game on the court.

If the Cavaliers survive Sunday's decisive Game 7 and move on to face the Toronto Raptors in the second round, they'll need the Canadian Thompson to play like he played at the start of Sunday.