Aus­tralian Dellave­dova’s hero­ics im­press su­per­stars; stays hum­ble

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JIM SLATER

Kyrie Irv­ing says Matthew Dellave­dova com­manded re­spect from the day they met. LeBron James backs the Aus­tralian for knight­hood. And even Steph Curry grudg­ingly ad­mits Dellave­dova has im­pressed against him.

So one might think the 24-year-old from Mary­bor­ough might be im­pressed with all the praise from his su­per­star peers as he has helped the Cleve­land Cava­liers take a 2-1 lead over Golden State in the NBA Fi­nals. But he’s not.

“To be hon­est, I’m not re­ally pay­ing at­ten­tion to any of it,” Dellave­dova said Wed­nes­day. “Just locked in on the goal and the job that needs to be done. So, yeah, that’s about it.”

It’s the laid-back, mat­ter-of-fact at­ti­tude that has made “Delly” beloved to Cleve­land fans hun­gry for their first sports cham­pion since the 1964 NFL Browns.

The no-non­sense ap­proach is why his Cava­liers team­mates aren’t shocked at his star turn as a fill-in for Irv­ing, who frac­tured his left kneecap in the fi­nals opener.

“Delly comes from a rugby back­ground and if any of you guys have an op­por­tu­nity to ever watch a rugby game, you see how tough it is,” James said. “That’s what it’s about. He just brings it all. Ev­ery­thing that he has, he lays out on the floor.”

Dellave­dova dives for loose balls, de­fends NBA Most Valu­able Player Steph Curry and scored 20 points in Tues­day’s 96-91 Cleve­land victory, af­ter which he need in­tra­venous flu­ids and spent the night in the hos­pi­tal.

“I think he dove on the ground last night an ‘NBA Fi­nals record’ six times. And he was on the ground again af­ter the game in the hos­pi­tal, so you could prob­a­bly say seven times,” James said. “He gives us ev­ery­thing he has and we all ap­pre­ci­ate it as his broth­ers in the lineup be­side him.”

And James backs him for be­com­ing Sir Dellave­dova, say­ing, “That’s pretty cool. What­ever is in the fa­vor of good for Delly, I’m all for it, what­ever that guy wants or needs.”

Dellave­dova kept Curry 0-for-8 when de­fend­ing him in game two and con­tained him un­til the fourth quar­ter in game three, heady hus­tle from an un­drafted sec­ond-year player against one of the league’s top scor­ers.

“He’s an NBA player. He’s here for a rea­son, so there is a rea­son he’s able to im­pact the game,” Curry said. “He has made some plays the last cou­ple games that helped them win, so there is no dis­cred­it­ing him as a player just be­cause of where he’s come from and his back­ground.

“We’re go­ing to keep bat­tling and hope­fully I’ll get the best of him over seven games.”

Delly ‘ready to rum­ble’

Team­mates aren’t sur­prised since they must con­tend with “Delly” in work­outs ev­ery week.

“First time I played against him, he com­manded my re­spect,” Irv­ing said. “Whether that be in a pickup game or us play­ing a scrim­mage in prac­tice, it was go­ing to be hard fought.

“Once you step into that, I want to call it a ring, with Delly, you bet­ter be ready to rum­ble. He’s ready to go all the time.”

And that means Thurs­day’s game four in Cleve­land de­spite his cramps and hos­pi­tal stay.

“Feel­ing pretty good,” Dellave­dova said. “Just cramped up a lit­tle bit and then they thought the best form of re­cov­ery would be just go to the hos­pi­tal for a lit­tle bit, get an IV. I was there for a lit­tle bit, but mainly just to rest up and re­cover. I’ll be ready to go.”

And with his con­tract ex­pir­ing, he might just be ready to com­mand some hefty money next sea­son.

“He’s the def­i­ni­tion of hard work pay­ing off,” Cava­liers team­mate Iman Shumpert said. “I am in awe of him. To see how cool he is, how calm he is, to see it fall to­gether like this for him, it def­i­nitely makes you smile.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.