The Cavaliers and Wizards both had high hopes of making the playoffs entering the season. Shoot, they still have high hopes.
But after a 4-7 start by Cleveland and 3-7 start by Washington, these teams are right back to being viewed as also-rans by the rest of the league. The each might not view themselves that way, but opposing teams expect to beat the Cavaliers and Wizards.
That’s problematic when they play each other – especially as they still take themselves so seriously – because one is going to lose. And that loser is not going to take it well.
Wednesday, that loser was the Cavaliers, who fell 98-91.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown, via Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal:
“We didn’t compete. We had one guy compete the entire time he was on the floor — Matthew Dellavedova,” Brown said, adding later, “I’m going to find guys who are going to play hard.”
Dellavedova had a solid nine points on 3-of-6 shooting (all 3-point attempts), though probably doesn’t properly reflect his impact. He was an astounding +21 in 26 minutes during a seven-point loss that was only so close because of his effort.
The Cavaliers already trailed 21-9 when Dellavedova first entered the game, and he didn’t make much impact. But he re-entered late in the third quarter with Cleveland down 73-46 and stayed in the rest of the game, spearheading a comeback that got the Cavaliers as close as four.
Dellavedova, an undrafted rookie, rarely played in Cleveland’s first 10 games. But he got 31 minutes in a win over these same Wizards and then 27 minutes Wednesday. He’s definitely earned himself a spot in the rotation.
After singling out Dellavedova and then saying he’ll find players who will go hard, Brown owes him at least that.