Before Sunday, the city of Cleveland had never enjoyed a win from the Cavs during the NBA Finals. Now, hours before hosting their first Finals game since 2007, hope still prevails for a team that has experienced so much turmoil not only this season, but throughout their 45-year history.
Their game two win didn’t come easy: they were a couple of mistakes and a missed dunk away from being down 0-2. The momentum shifter for Sunday’s game occurred towards the end of the 3rd quarter. Maurice Speights attempted a dunk off of a fastbreak but someway, somehow, the ball went in and out of the basket.
It was a moment that encapsulated the overall atrocious shooting coming from both teams throughout the game so perfectly. Unfortunately for Golden State, it would end up being two points they dearly needed but couldn’t get back. Chef Curry didn’t do much better, only shooting 5 of 23. His poor performance in the game derailed Golden State’s offensive prowess, keeping Cleveland in the game.
LeBron James played like the experienced champion he is for three quarters and was most potent when dishing the ball to his teammates, who finally stepped up with 21 points off the bench. But in the 4th quarter and overtime, the 2-time champ only went 2-12 and settled for jumpers, seemingly stunting any shot Cleveland had of winning the game.
To top it all off, the superstar who fans complain the NBA officials favor, didn’t get an obvious foul called on his defender Andre Iguodala during a critical point in the game. All Cavaliers fans were on edge knowing the potential implications the no-call could’ve had in the series. J.R. Smith was a non-factor in the win, committing multiple fouls allowing the Warriors to erase the Cavaliers’ 11-point lead.
Despite Smith’s struggling, a scrappy Aussie stepped up and saved the day with a defensive performance he won’t get enough credit for in the box score. His 9 points and 5 rebounds don’t seem like a lot, but without Matthew Dellavedova, you can say bye-bye to any chance of a Cleveland championship.
Stat of the Game
Dellavedova did something few have been able to do throughout the season – shut down Steph Curry. He kept pace with Curry all night and practically hacked him just enough without gaining the attention of the refs. Delly’s defensive stance in overtime saved the Cavaliers’ season and probably helped him earn a lot of cash in the offseason.
Player of the Game Profile
Who is Matthew Dellavedova? The 6’4” 24-year-old Australian native is Kyrie Irving’s replacement in the Cavaliers’ starting lineup. He went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft and made his way to Cleveland by way of the NBA Summer League.
Dellavedova was a non-factor in Game 1 scoring no points during the nine minutes he played. As the only shooting guard left on the team with defensive chops, he’s had to step up in a major way on the biggest stage. Those who know him, including his former college coach at St. Mary’s College Randy Bennett, say that he’s courageous enough to handle the obstacles headed his way throughout the remainder of the series.
“If that’s the play that needs to happen for him to win, he’ll shoot it. He’s not afraid of that. But he doesn’t run around trying to be the hero, either. He’s just going to try to make the play that helps his team win.”
Social Media Posts of the Game
There’s no doubt many fans agree with J.R. Smith’s assertion. I’m surprised he even got a seat on the team plane because the mental mistakes he made towards the end of the game almost ended the series.
It’s great for Cavs fans to see Smith stepping up with 3 pointers during the second half but if its going to come at the cost of stupidity during the final 2 minutes, is it worth keeping him on the team after this series is over?
The action continues Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ABC. Golden State will definitely have to control the pace of the game if they want a shot. Cleveland may have a weakened rotation, but the energy from fans may be enough to keep them competitive.