If you don’t know who Matthew Dellavedova is you’re not alone. The undrafted, unknown 24-year-old Australian Cleveland Cavaliers guard could very well still have been in the Southern Hemisphere prior to the 2015 NBA postseason for all I knew. When you’re backing up one of league’s top three point guards in Kyrie Irving, you’re not going to get much of the spotlight – or minutes. Well, that’s all changed after Irving suffered a season-ending left kneecap fracture, sidelining him for the next 3 – 4 months.
Cue Crocodile Dunkdee. It’s not the most accurate nickname considering that I haven’t seen him dunk, but it’s the best basketball/Australian joke I can make at the moment. I’d also like to take this opportunity to discuss another Australian in the finals, the Golden State Warriors’ starting centre, Andrew Bogut. I would compare his play and intensity in the NBA Finals to that of the lovable koala; he’s slow, looks half asleep out there, and is mistakenly referred to as a bear.
If Bogut is to have any use in this series, he must defend the paint and attempt to stop Lebron James from attacking the rim, something he did at will in Game 3. Personally, I believe the Warriors’ David Lee should be given the benefit of a doubt and be inserted into the lineup. Yes, he’s undersized at the centre position (he plays the forward position as well) but he’s a good player that’s been buried at the end of a talented bench all season long. He made his first Finals appearance in Game 3 and played reasonably well. Tonight is Game 4 and the Warriors are down two games to one, and the sand is slipping through the neck of the NBA Finals hourglass – it’s time to try something new.
Dellavedova or ‘Delly’ to the 20,000 roaring Cleveland fans chanting his name during Game 3 is gaining popularity (and notoriety) for his gritty all-in hustle/borderline dirty style of play. He’s been doing it throughout the playoffs in a backup role, but now with the departure of Irving, he must continue to play his all-or-nothing style. Championship runs always seem to have a moment like this, an underdog Cinderella. The interesting part is that this particular Cinderella is already matched with the well-established King of the hardwood in Lebron James. This combination has all the momentum in the world at the moment, and if you couple that with another gritty hustle player in Brampton, Ontario’s Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers certainly have the advantage in that category.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Stephen Curry put up a bunch of points in a hurry in the 4th quarter of Game 3. The Warriors were down 20 and quickly cut that lead to 1 before eventually dropping the game. In tonight’s Game 4 showdown look for the Warriors to come out shooting – and hitting – while also trying to keep Lebron out of the paint; look for the Cavaliers to continue doing exactly what they are… hustling.
*All image credits can be found on the References & Resources page.