Aussies in NBA Playoffs: Dellavedova remains impactful in Cavs loss
Game 3 of the Chicago-Cleveland series was a gritty affair, and came down to a heroic Derrick Rose bank shot (video) that sealed a 99-96 victory. Rose mentioned post-game that he did not call glass on that shot. Even when you're D-Rose, all you can do is to let the ball fly, and hope the basketball gods are on your side this night.
Matthew Dellavedova played nearly 16 minutes this night, and had 10 points on 2 of 3 from downtown. He also recorded two rebounds, four assists, one turnover and two personal fouls. It's a noteworthy performance, considering the limited minutes played. Interestingly enough, Delly was second in assists on the team behind their primary playmaker James (14), and ahead of Kyrie Irving, who had zero assists for the night and only 11 points. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reported Irving as having a strained right foot, something that might explain Irving's poor performance this game. Irving apparently had been playing through this injury since the Celtics series.
The Delly effect
Regardless of minutes, it's no surprise that Dellavedova remained the most active Cavalier on the court. The energetic guard led the team on average speed (4.47 mph) and pace (99.16). Compare it to fellow guards Kyrie Irving (3.82 mph, 95.91) or Iman Shumpert (3.97 mph, 91.99), and it's obvious Dellavedova is running hard, on and off the ball. It wasn't just mindless sprinting either; Delly's movements definitely made an impact. He was second in the team on Net Rating (4.9) behind Shumpert (5.4), and led the team on Player Impact Estimate (21.4). He's all about doing the little things right: running hard on the break, moving to get free, and always getting back on transition defense.
To be fair, Delly has struggled to contain the athletic Rose (or Aaron Brooks) on drives, but never fails to give his full effort when staying in front of his man, and contesting shots.
The offensive rhythm is smooth
Dellavedova continues to display confidence in his shots; he knows there is zero room for hesitation. The minute those passes come, he has to be ready and to hit those open three-pointers. Both of his spot up threes this game have come within the team's offense (aka not forced shots). LeBron drives to collapse the defense, and kicks the ball out to an open teammate. One of Delly's shots came from a direct LeBron pass, and the other from Shumpert, who swung the ball over to an open Dellavedova on the wing. Delly did not only camp outside and chuck the long-range bombs too. Despite having an opportunity to drop the ball off to Mozgov in the second quarter, Delly drove and finished against Brooks and an immobile Noah.
All about that pass
The pick and roll is becoming an integral part of Delly's game, and the man is carefully working those passes whenever the chance (read: a rolling Cleveland big man) presents itself. It happened twice in the second quarter; a dish to the charging Mozgov for an easy finish, and a lob to Tristan Thompson.
Here's how the Thompson connection happened again in the third. The Bulls tried to contain Dellavedova's drive by having Mirotic drop back, but no one was covering Tristan Thompson as he rolled hard to the rim. It's no surprise that Delly saw the opportunity, and threw that pass on point for the Thompson jam.
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The series is now 2-1 in favour of Chicago. In light of Kyrie's foot injury, Cleveland might struggle to regain momentum. It's worth noting however, that the team only lost on a lucky buzzer beater with a limping Kyrie Irving, so there is definitely ample room for this series to be squared up once more.
Dellavedova is proving his worth this series; expect him to play a bigger role in Game 4.
Statistics from Game 3 box score.