“I’m never going anywhere without Delly again,” Cleveland Cavalier's forward LeBron James told reporters on Sunday night.
"He made Steph work. He was spectacular, man, defensively. We needed everything from him."LeBron James
James was talking about fellow teammate Matthew Dellavedova, who stepped into a starting role in Game 2 of the NBA finals for injured all-star Kyrie Irving. Dellavedova played 42 minutes and shut down the NBA's most valuable player, Golden State's Stephen Curry. The Cavaliers won the game, 95-93 in overtime, to even the series at one game apiece.
James said Curry's worst shooting performance of the season had "everything to do with Delly."
Dellavedova "just kept a body on Steph," said James. "He made Steph work. He was spectacular, man, defensively. We needed everything from him. When Steph shoots the ball, you just automatically think it's going in because he shoots the ball so well. He just did a great job."
The Australian-born Dellavedova played at Div. 1 St. Mary's, a small liberal arts college in Oakland, CA. He went undrafted out of college and was signed by the Cavaliers last season. In addition to his performance on defense, Dellavedova scored two free throws that gave Cleveland the lead in overtime.
"He's a courageous kid that plays right," Cav's head coach David Blatt said after the game. "I think anyone that looks at him objectively and fairly recognizes someone that just plays hard, heartfelt, and tough basketball."
'Dellavedova' was trending on Twitter Sunday night. Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas was among those sharing their thoughts on Dellavedova's Game 2 performance.
But fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley disagreed, attributing Curry's dismal statline to a poor shooting night.
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“People need to slow down giving [Dellavedova] so much credit,” Barkley told Bleacher Report. “Steph Curry will kill that kid in the overall scheme of things. He just didn’t make shots last night.”
Curry wrote off his poor shooting performance as a fluke and expects to bounce back in Game 3.
"I doubt this will happen again, with the adjustments I'll make once I look at the film," Curry said. "One game is not going to make me stop shooting or alter my confidence at all."
But whether he's playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Australian national team, known as the Boomers, Dellavedova says he doesn't give up easily.
“If I did not have that drive and dedication, I would not be playing for the Boomers or in the NBA,” Dellavedova told the Guardian last season. “Ultimately that’s all you can do: commit everything and try to be as good as possible. If you do that – wherever it gets you, wherever you end up – you have to be happy, because there is nothing else you can do except give your best every day.”
Game 3 will be played in Cleveland on Tuesday.