OAKLAND, US: Australian guard Matthew Dellavedova, who couldn’t even catch the team bus after the NBA Finals opener, has been thrust into the spotlight as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ replacement for injured Kyrie Irving.
Just minutes after the Cavaliers announced Irving had undergone surgery on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to repair his fractured left kneecap and would be sidelined for about four months, Dellavedova was relaxed as he prepared to likely start in Irving’s place against Golden State and a potentially key role in Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) second game of the best-of-seven series.
“The first reaction is disappointment. You feel awful for Kyrie,” Dellavedova said. “But we’ve still got a job to do and a great opportunity. It’s going to be tough but we’re going to be ready.
“I don’t think my approach changes, I just go into the game doing whatever the team needs me to do to help win.”
All-Star Irving had 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocked shots. So the Aussie has a mighty big to-do list, but NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry of Golden State knows better than to overlook him.
“Dellavedova has a different game than Kyrie. You have to know his strengths,” Curry said. “When he’s driving, it’s being able to stay disciplined and also stay tight on him because he’s a knockdown shooter. If you get him easy looks… he can definitely kill you.”
But Dellavedova needed an Uber ride to the team hotel Thursday after missing the team bus from the arena Thursday talking with relatives.
“It was no big deal. I was just talking to my family after the game,” he said. “Yeah, just happened to miss the bus. But it was all good.”
Dellavedova filled in when Irving missed two games in Cleveland’s Eastern Conference final sweep of Atlanta and has the confidence of his teammates to do what they need to defeat the Warriors.
“Oh yeah, plenty of confidence,” said Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert. “Delly is always looking to step up big for the team and do what he has to do to get the win, so we’re definitely prepared for that.”