Matthew Dellavedova Brought The Grit As The Cleveland Cavaliers Win Game 2
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors went at it again at Oracle Arena for Game 2. The task was monumental for LeBron and the Cavs, as they were playing without their star guard, Kyrie Irving. The Cavs came out inspired and they were up by 11 late in the game, but the Warriors roared back behind big shots by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. But in overtime, the one guy that many viewed as a liability for Cleveland in Game 1 came through in the clutch. Matthew Dellavedova was an afterthought in Game 1. He played only 10 minutes in the first game and he was so forgotten that the Cavaliers team bus actually left him at the arena. But in Game 2 when it really mattered, he played hard, fought for everything and was arguably the second-most important man on the court for the Cavs. His stats were not overly impressive this game (9 points on 3/13 shooting, 5 rebounds and 1 assist), but it was the little things that made him one of the stars of the game.
Everyone remembers the plays that were made by Kyrie Irving against Steph Curry during Game 1. Curry had two of his shots rejected while going to the basket against Irving, including the potential game-winning layup at the end of Game 1. But being that Irving was injured for Game 2 and the rest of the series, not many gave Matthew Dellavedova, affectionately called Delly by Cleveland fans, a chance at all. Many expected Curry to take it to him offensively. After all, Curry was giving him fits when he was guarding Dellavedova defensively and Curry was having his way against him when he got his shot offensively. But going into Game 2, it seemed that Dellavedova took it to Curry just a little bit more. The thing he did the most against Curry was take away his air space. Usually Curry has some room to operate and run off screens when he gives up the ball offensively. This game, Curry felt Delly everywhere he went on the court. Curry was not fouled by Delly, but the defense was enough to make Curry uncomfortable. Delly not only played physical with Curry but he moved his feet defensively better than some thought. Delly was able to stay in front of Curry for most of the game, minus one open court layup where Curry gave him the business. That seemed to frustrate Curry and also made Curry take some tough shots where he had his momentum leaning away from the basket. Of course Curry usually hits some of these tough shots and he hit a big shot down the stretch from three-point range, but they were not falling tonight and most of that credit has to go to Cleveland’s underdog point guard. Curry did not hit one shot against him all night.
Delly was clicking defensively, but earlier in the game he was giving the Cavaliers nothing offensively. In the first half, Dellavedova was just turning the basketball over. He was trying to throw the lob to some of the Cleveland big men, but it was not working like it had in previous series. He also was jacking up shots way too quickly with a lot of time left on the game clock. He kept on doing some of the same unexplainable things in the second half. At one point, there had to be some question as to what else he could give on the offensive end and how could they hide him. But when the fourth quarter came around, it seemed like Delly saw the bright lights and felt it was time to make things happen. The Warriors dared him to shoot the basketball off a pick-and-roll at the top of the screen twice and Delly obliged them. But what he did smart was counted on the floater that he was missing earlier in the game. He hit two straight floaters in the fourth quarter and then hit a big three off the assist of LeBron James. That was thought to be enough if it were not for the huge collapse the Cavaliers had in the fourth quarter. But in overtime, just like in the fourth quarter, Delly made a huge play when it counted. The Cavs were down one point with the ball when James Jones missed a three-pointer with 10 seconds left. One guy the Cavaliers were expecting to be in the paint fighting for the ball was rebound machine Tristian Thompson. But he was not by himself in that battle because there was small, gritty Dellavedova fighting and clawing on the boards. He was fouled by Harrison Barnes and he hit two free throws to put the Cavaliers up one point. And that was a lead the Cavaliers would not relinquish. Besides the play of LeBron during the game, his effort on that one play alone was the play of the game. His grittiness definitely helped Cleveland pull out this victory.
Going forward, Dellavedova can be key in how Cleveland does. He is a gritty defender and can cause havoc and muck up the game. For Cleveland to win, he has to play this way and so does the entire team. James is definitely the straw that stirs the drink for the Cavs, but Dellavedova was definitely the spark plug to the Cavs mentality change going into this game. For Cleveland fans, they hope Delly shows up like this again in Game 3 minus the turnovers and bad shot selection at time. The Cavs probably will not see Steph Curry have another shooting night like he had in Game 2, but in this game, Delly had the upper hand. And going into Game 3, it will be interesting to see how Curry counteracts the physical defense Dellavedova played on Curry.