Aussies in NBA: Delly with limited opportunities to shine
The Cleveland Cavaliers set numerous three-point shooting records in their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks. Knocking down 77 triples in a span of just four games is simply an astonishing number, one that represents the transcendent shift the NBA is currently undertaking.
Unfortunately, Matthew Dellavedova played a very minimal role in the Cavs' historic three-point shooting barrage.
After he was able to control the Cavaliers' bench offence in the first round, Dellavedova struggled to establish any sort of rhythm in the semifinals. Dellavedova averaged just 2.3 points and 3.3 assists per game in 13.7 minutes a night against the Hawks. Furthermore, Dellavedova’s shooting percentages plummeted, as he shot 3-of-15 over the four games, including 2-of-8 from beyond the three-point line.
It’s tough to pinpoint one concrete reason why Dellavedova had such a hard time in the second round.
Sure, his opportunities in terms of court time were limited, but he averaged just 4.4 more minutes in the first round, where he had a much greater influence. Dellavedova isn’t a player that needs a large amount of minutes to be effective. With his hard-nosed defensive mindset and settling presence on the offensive end, Dellavedova usually makes an immediate impact.
This wasn’t the case against Atlanta. While Dellavedova and LeBron James connected on a couple of pick and rolls, they weren’t as proficient as they were in the previous round. The Hawks defence decided to go under on Dellavedova in the screen and roll game, and as his shooting numbers show, it was an effective strategy.
Thus, it makes sense that 26.7 percent of Dellavedova’s three-point attempts in the second round were ‘open’ (when the closest defender is within 4-6 feet), and 20.0 percent of them were ‘wide open’ (when the closest defender is within 6 feet or more). A combination of defenders giving Dellavedova the free space to shoot, and the Cavs' excellent ball movement, opened up a lot of clean looks. It is a make or miss league though, and Dellavedova just couldn’t make them.
However, despite Dellavedova’s individual struggles, he was still able to make a positive impact when he was on the floor.
Cleveland had an offensive rating of 121.2 and a defensive rating of 103.8 with Dellavedova on the court, giving them a NET rating of +17.4. When Dellavedova went to the bench though, that NET rating dropped to +10.4, which is still a tremendous mark, but obviously is a decrease on his on-court numbers.
It’s tough to determine whether these numbers are a result of Dellavedova’s impact, or the way the Cavaliers are playing at the moment. After all, they’re 8-0 in the playoffs so far, hitting a level that no one could foresee.
Regardless, the fact remains that Dellavedova still managed to make a helpful impact when he was on the court. To say that Dellavedova had a good, efficient series though, would be a stretch.
Stats via NBA.com/stats