CLEVELAND -- In the fall of 2015, Tristan Thompson signed a five-year, $82 million contract extension with the Cavaliers. The deal raised eyebrows around the NBA. It was a lot of money for a rebounding power forward with limited offensive skills.
Thompson paid dividends last season, though. He was the Cavs' inside force in the Finals, averaging 10.3 points and 10.1 rebounds as they rallied back to beat the Warriors in seven games and bring Cleveland its first major pro championship in more than half a century.
But now, with the Cavs on the verge of getting swept by Golden State, Thompson has been close to invisible in the Finals. In three games, he has scored a total of eight points and gone scoreless twice. He's averaging 3.7 rebounds and hasn't gotten to the foul line.
The Cavs need a lot more in a high-tempo series against a Warriors team with multiple offensive weapons and good front-court depth. But Thompson hasn't demonstrated his most marketable skill: Offensive rebounding. He's been a lost soul, as the Warriors have neutralized him with smaller lineups and extra physical attention in the low post.
"He's killed us on the offensive rebounding category the last two years," said Steph Curry, "especially in" Quicken Loans Arena. "The biggest things is from the start of the game, Zaza" Pachulia "has done a great job of being physical with him."
ESPN host Jalen Rose calls it the "Curse of the Kardashians." Khloe Kardashian has been dating Thompson since last fall, and crazed Cav conspiracy theorists are blaming her for the team's woes.
"I want to say what everybody’s thinking," Rose said after Game Three. "There are three things in life that are certain to me: Father Time, gravity, and the curse of the Kardashians."
I'm more inclined to put the blame on Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Pachulia and Andre Iguodala. It will be interesting to see if coach Tyronn Lue makes any lineup adjustments with Thompson giving him so little on the stat sheet.
At $16 million a season, the Cavs certainly deserve more.
On Friday night, the Cavs will attempt to become only the second team in more than 50 years to win Game Four of a Finals after dropping the first three. Eight of the last nine teams that went down 3-0 got swept. The exception was the 1996 Sonics, who won two against the Bulls before losing in six. No team has come back from 3-0 to win any playoff series.
Cleveland is the first team with a chance to stop an opponent from completing a perfect postseason. Maybe that will give the Cavs incentive to stay alive in a spot when teams normally lose their will.
"Oh, I don't think we're trying to stop 16-0," said Kyle Korver. "I don't think anyone on our team cares about that. We just want to win a game cause we want to win the championship. So is that the thought process: Win one game and then get beat in Game Five? That doesn't make any sense.
"So the 16-0 thing, I don't think anyone is giving any thought to that. We just got to get one first. Got to win one in a row before you can win four in a row."
Korver said he barely slept Wednesday night. He said it was hard not to replay his missed three-point attempt from the left corner, on a LeBron James feed, with the Cavs up two with 53 seconds to play.
"Totally," said Korver, a slick shooting guard who came to the Cavs in a trade with the Hawks in January. "We all have plays we want back. Certainly that shot I had in the corner was one, I thought it was in. It felt good when it left my hand."
Is it fair to say the Cavs got you to hit that shot in the Finals, he was asked. "Yeah, sure," Korver said.
Game Three was the second Finals game in which four players scored at least 30 points. Kevin Durant had 31 and Klay Thompson 30 for the Warriors, James 39 and Kyrie Irving 38 for the Cavs. According to Elias, it also happened in Game Two of the 1995 Finals in Orlando. Hakeem Olajuwon had 34 points and Sam Cassell 31 off the bench for Houston. Shaquille O’Neal had 33 and Anfernee Hardaway 32 for the Magic.
Every game, it seems some sort of three-point record falls, which tells you how prominent the shot has become in today's NBA. The Warriors have made at least 12 threes in each Finals game this year. The 1982 champion Lakers attempted 12 three-point shots in the entire postseason.
The Warriors and Cavs set a Finals record with 28 combined three-pointers made and 77 attempted in Game Three; they had set the previous records a game earlier. The Cavs set a record with 44 attempted threes. Golden State sets Finals records with 12 successful threes in the first half and nine in the first quarter. The Warriors made 16 threes, two short of the record they had set -- yes, in Game Two this year.