Aussies in NBA: Dellavedova denies Lin, shows playmaker presence

The Cavaliers won this game against the Charlotte Hornets in a tightly contested race to the finish, coming out on top 95-90. The team now stands at 12-4 in the regular season.

Despite his status being a game-time decision earlier, Cleveland guard Matthew Dellavedova returned to the lineup today, and scored 11 points on 2 of 7 shooting. He was only 1 of 4 from the 3-point line, but dished out 5 assists. Delly also took a charge, had one rebound and recorded a big block against Jeremy Lin (box score).

Delly denies Lin

Towards the end of the first, Hornets guard Jeremy Lin called for an isolation play, with Dellavedova as the defender. The Cleveland guard stood his ground on defense, sticking with Lin through the high screen, and managed to block the layup. It wasn't as easy guarding Kemba Walker however. It felt like a defensive mismatch, and Walker's speed and offensive instincts got the better of Delly in this game.

That being said, Delly's presence as a secondary playmaker has helped ease the flow on offense. He was always ready to throw the hockey assist and find the next open guy, and kept his eyes open for a waiting teammate on his drives to the basket. The team only had an abysmal 17 assists in total, and Dellavedova tied James for the assists high, at 5 apiece.

It feels like Dellavedova's presence as a facilitator is becoming more and more critical in Cleveland. The team at times, seems to run out of gas and/or ideas (or both), and settles for a strategy of "throw LeBron at the defense while everyone stands around, and something will collapse".

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It works at times (not this time), but is a poor indicator of growth for a championship contending team.

Dellavedova highlights vs Charlotte Hornets

Note that the video also contain Delly's missed assists and defensive lapses, so as to present a more complete picture of his performance in Charlotte.

During a post-game interview with Fox Ohio, teammate Richard Jefferson praised Dellavedova's energy and relentless hustle as a factor for his continued presence in the NBA.

"Everybody has something that makes them special when you get to professional sports, and Delly didn't go the UConn route, the Arizona route. He went the small school route, he came from Australia so he's always had everybody counting against him or really not counting him as one of those main guys. But because he's worked extremely hard, because he's extremely gritty, because he's focused at all times, it allows coaches to find time for him on the court and he maximises it."

And I'm sure all of us would agree, he couldn't have said it any better.