Did you know who Matthew Dellavedova was at the beginning of the season? Or even at the beginning of the playoffs?
In two games, the undrafted Saint Mary’s product has gone from “Wait, he’s actually in the league?” to “Wow, this guy’s the second-best player on the Cavs.”
He’s also the No. 1 non-LeBron reason why Cleveland leads Golden State 2-1 in the Finals.
“All I know is, first of all, he’s a great kid,” Fox Sports Ohio Cavs host and 92.3 The Fan voice Jeff Phelps said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s a really good guy. It’s been fun to watch him rise to the occasion, hasn’t it? Nobody knew who the heck this guy was after Game 1.”
They know who he is now. Dellavedova hit the game-winning free throws in Game 2 and scored 20 points in Game 3. He also leads the world in floor burns and is guarding Stephen Curry better than, well, pretty much anyone ever has.
“Hustle doesn’t go into a slump,” Phelps said. “Defense doesn’t go into a slump. You can miss shots and you can throw the ball away, but if you’re hustling and playing defense, it’s not going to slump. We had no concerns that Delly was going to not have that effort last night.”
But what about the 20 points – including the banked-in, and-one, are-you-serious floater from beyond the free-throw line that basically won the game?
“That’s a different story,” Phelps said. “That was pretty impressive. You don’t expect that out of him. I mean, he was one (point) off his career high, but the kid can play and he’s always been really gutsy. The impressive thing to us (is) he went from being labeled as a dirty player against Atlanta to now in the Finals being exposed for what he is – and that’s a guy who just hustles his you-know-what off and helps his team win. The guy’s not the most skilled guy, obviously. We can all see that. But he can play basketball.”
As for the superstars, it seems that James and Curry are setting the tone for their teams in completely different ways. James is attacking, jacking shots and has a win-at-all costs mentality; Curry, by comparison, looks defeated, with slumped shoulders and poor body language.
Both have been contagious, which is good for Cleveland but not-so-good for Golden State.
“I agree with you completely,” Phelps said. “The one thing, though, that scares me as a guy who’s watched the Cavs all year – what happened in that fourth quarter scares the heck out of me moving forward. We’re sitting there and the Cavs are up by 20 late in the third, up by 17 going into the fourth, and all of a sudden Golden State comes out with an 8-0 run. I thought, ‘Uh-oh, here we go.’”
The Warriors got to within one before eventually losing, 96-91.
“Looking at the series as a whole, Golden State found it,” Phelps said. “They found it in the fourth quarter. I thought, ‘That’s Golden State basketball. That’s what these guys have done all year. That’s why they won 67 games.’ Now the Cavaliers have to see if what they’ve been doing the last two games – even the last three games – can keep them from playing that style again. Because they did find it last night. If I’m a Cavs coach, if I’m a Cavs player, that’s a huge concern for me right now.”