Spander: For Cleveland and St. Mary’s, 'Delly’ shuts down the MVP 

OAKLAND —He was hardly a surprise, this Matthew Dellavedova, who had a very large part in the Warriors' very large loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday night. He played his college ball maybe 20 miles from the Oracle, at St. Mary's, a gritty, talented kid who set scoring records and had his number retired.

That he went undrafted is yet another indication the guys who run the NBA are far from perfect. The man is physical and determined. In Game 2, his job was to slow down Stephen Curry, an assignment that left Dellavedova unfazed and Curry disenchanted.

"He's unique in his own way," said Dellavedova's more famous teammate, LeBron James. "Obviously he's a guy that has been counted out his whole life. Probably people have been telling him he's too small his whole life, he's not fast enough, can't shoot it enough, can't handle it good enough. He's beat the odds so many times. He goes out and plays his tail off, and when a guy like that does that, he gets great results."

He got them Sunday night. Dellavedova wasn't the only reason Curry hit just 5 of 23 from the floor, scoring just 19 points as the W's lost 95-93 in overtime. But he had a great deal to do with it.

At the end, the 6-foot-4 Dellavedova was pounding for loose balls and rebounds. With 10 seconds, he made the free throws that gave Cleveland the lead and helped inspire the Cavs to tie the best-of-seven championship Finals at a game apiece.

He's Australian, Dellavedova, but you've been told that. He's known as "Delly." He's also known as an athlete who can make an impact when the game is up for grabs or make a basket when James — who had 39 points and 11 assists—decides it's time to pass instead of shoot.

"Well, he's a good player," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Dellavedova. "This is what we expected. Tough game. Great defensive teams. This was a grind-out kind of old-school game." And Curry, who is lithe and smooth, is new school.

"You replace one guy with another," said Kerr, referring to Dellavedova taking the place of Kyrie Irving, out with a fractured kneecap, "and everybody's different. You have strengths, weaknesses. Whatever. You just have to adapt accordingly and move on."

Curry insisted Dellavedova didn't add anything different, even if he subtracted from Curry's usual MVP scoring routine. "Played defense like every pro is supposed to,'' he said. "But I doubt this will happen again, with the adjustments I'll make. One game is not going to stop my confidence at all."

Dellavedova's confidence is also unstoppable. "The confidence we have in him," James said of Dellavedova, "allows him to be confident in himself."

There was no disagreement from the subject. "I mean, I think as a team we have a collective confidence that we can still win and still get the job done," said Dellavedova, his Aussie accent very noticeable despite years in the U.S. "I think we developed that at the end of the Chicago series and that Atlanta series. So I think we have good cohesiveness."

Dellavedova has heard the knocks of his game, but he tries to be oblivious. "I don't really pay attention to anything outside of the locker room because none of that stuff matters. As for motivation, it's the NBA Finals, and if you need to be looking for extra motivation, you probably shouldn't be playing."

He's playing. He's playing well. He's off the bench and into the Warriors' psyche. "You know," said Cavs coach David Blatt, "we've got a good game plan in place how we want to defend. A player of Steph's magnitude is not one that you can really go out and stop. What you try to do is make his life difficult and hope that particular day he's not making some of his really tough shots that he does make. We tried to be close and disturb him."

With the presence of Matthew Dellavedova, Curry and the Warriors were very, very disturbed.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.bleacherreport.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.

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Art Spander

Art Spander

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Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.bleacherreport.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.
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