Aussies in NBA: Kyrie returns, but Delly still shines

The Sixers are historically bad. Conversely, Matthew Dellavedova is trending in the opposite direction.

Though a 108–86 Cavaliers rout over the hapless Sixers on Monday amounted to little more than a glorified practice scrimmage, Matthew Dellavedova continued to exhibit signs of a maturing game and a feeling that he belongs in the NBA.

Coming off the bench to accommodate the return from injury of Kyrie Irving, Delly finished the game with 20 points, on 7-10 shooting, including 4-6 from 3-point range. He also added 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks, in an industrious 23 minutes of action.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K1sd_iIetc&w=560&h=315] I previously wrote about the uncertain impact that Kyrie Irving’s return may have on Delly’s game. We’re nowhere closer to an answer after Monday’s performance.

Kyrie Irving started the game with J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov. He started slowly, bricking a twisting layup in the first quarter, but naturally looked more comfortable as the game progressed. Irving was on a strict minutes restriction, and his timing looked off, as he jacked up some horrible shots.

Irving and Delly did not log a single minute together, per BasketballReference.com, with Blatt using Delly straight up as the direct substitution for Irving.

Meanwhile, Delly excelled.

The Delly , Smith, LeBron, Tristan Thompson and Mozgov quintet sported the highest net plus-minus, per BasketballReference.com, against the Sixers.

It’s hard to decipher through all the noise, such as the obvious LeBron impact, and particularly with single game data, but part of that effectiveness may be due to the innate chemistry between Delly and Tristan Thompson. That combination immediately conjures memories of pick-and-rolls with Delly lobs for Thompson slams, but I almost jumped from my seat when I saw this.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRradxeql4k&w=560&h=315] Delly gets caught on the Jerami Grant screen, but no matter because Tristan Thompson sees this! He instantly jumps out to contain the threat of Hollis Thompson, and shrinks the floor to protect his Australian friend from the one-on-one meanness of Nerlens Noel. Naturally, the Sixers travel to end the possession.

In fact, the Cavs defense is on a string, moving perfectly in sync, with Iman Shumpert initially bumping the cutter, and Love communicating well as the backline helper, but the central protagonists here are Delly and Thompson.

So what if we were looking at it the wrong way, all along? What if the more pertinent question to consider was the impact of Thompson’s game on Delly’s, and vice-versa?

That's certainly something to monitor, moving forward.