If you’ve watched a single game of the best NBA Finals matchup in recent memory, you probably noticed that scrappy little beard guy diving around and shutting down Steph Curry. He definitely makes himself known out on the court, which is weird because before the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks even people in his home town of Canberra, Australia, didn’t know who he was.
Well, everyone knows him now—Matthew Dellavedova. It’s just crazy to think that on a team with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert, the 24-year-old kid with the impossible to say name would emerge as the X-factor for the Cavs behind LeBron James.
What Delly has done in the playoffs has made him the big story line of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. After averaging 4.8 points per game through the regular season, Dellavedova got his chance to shine against the Atlanta Hawks after Irving was injured. The scrappy 6’4 guard got good minutes, and became recognized as someone who was willing to dive for loose balls and put his body on the line to win the game.
Well, that hustle has carried over into the NBA Finals series against the Golden State Warriors so far. After seeing practically no playing time in Game 1, Dellavedova has really stepped up again for Kyrie who will miss the rest of the series with a broken knee cap.
The biggest contribution of Dellavedova’s is his defense against reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry. Coming into the series, the Cavs were labeled as unprepared for what the Warriors would bring offensively; and Game 1 only strengthened that belief. Apparently Kyrie isn’t the best on-ball defensive guard.
Well, Curry was practically a non-factor in Game 2 and the first 45 minutes of Game 3. In fact, in Game 2, Curry didn’t have a single point while being guarded by Dellavedova. Not a single crazy three-point shot. No layups. Nothing. He actually air-balled his game-winning shot attempt because Delly was right in his face.
It’s almost comical—the reigning MVP who is supposed to be the best player in the NBA for the season is being out-played on the offensive side of the ball by what’s-his-name.
Obviously if the Cavaliers go on to win the NBA Championship, LeBron James will be named Finals MVP, and rightfully so. Dellavedova deserves at least an honorable mention though.