During a series that has squashed conventional wisdom in every conceivable way, it’s only right that Cleveland Cavaliers point guard and backcourt safety valve Matthew Dellavedova has played his way into the national spotlight alongside LeBron James. As the Cavaliers took a 2-1 series lead with a 96-91 Game 3 victory Tuesday night, Dellavedova scored a playoff career-high 20 points (7-of-17 shooting, 2-of-6 from three) while dropping four dimes and hitting the floor countless times as he relentlessly pursued loose balls in ways the Golden State Warriors simply could not.
“He’s made of steel, or something,” James said after the win during his on-court interview with ESPN’s Doris Burke. “If there’s a ball on the ground, he’s going to be the first guy to the ground. He showed up multiple times tonight. He’s huge. He’s huge for our team. He gives us that grit, that grit that we need. He gives us everything until the tank is empty, and he has a small little reserve tank that he continues to work through. He’s huge for us.”
Just as they have all series, the Cavaliers embraced a more physical style in order to disrupt the Warriors’ free-flowing offense. And the man at the forefront of that havoc was Dellavedova, who now leads all Cavaliers players with a defensive rating of 92.8 in the Finals. “He plays as hard as he can every day,” Cavaliers head coach David Blatt told reporters during his post-game press conference, according to the team’s official Twitter account. “He plays right. He’s not afraid. He plays courageously.” Dellavedova plays so hard, in fact, that he was transported to the Cleveland Clinic after the game to undergo treatment for severe cramps, according to the team.
Although Curry caught fire late and forced the Cavs to sweat things out again—seriously, what else did you expect after Games 1 and 2?—he was still forced into a game-high six turnovers while scoring 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting (7-of-13 from three). The Splash Brothers of Curry and Klay Thompson combined to score 41 points Tuesday night—19 less than James and Dellavedova. I guess we will just have to see if Curry and the Warriors have a response for the Cavs in Game 4 on Thursday at 9pm.
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