Australian Dellavedova’s heroics impress superstars; stays humble
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.”