OAKLAND — There is always a little-known role player who, thanks to a good matchup and strong play, makes a name for himself at the NBA Finals.
This year it is Matthew Dellavedova of the Cavaliers.
LeBron James has praised him, saying Curry’s struggles were because of Delly’s defense. David Blatt has praised Dellavedova at every turn, as have the ABC broadcasters. Walking around Cleveland he was the second most popular guy on the team still playing (Kyrie Irving might normally occupy that slot). ESPN is running features on him, as is PBT and just about everyone else. Delly is loved.
That has annoyed Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Sources within the Warriors’ organization say they were “pissed off” and “irked” by the media attention Dellavedova was receiving and the narrative of the Australian “locking down” the league’s MVP.
As for Curry, he was annoyed too, I’m told.
“People have lit a fire under Steph, which is good thing,” Andrew Bogut told NEOMG. “It’s something that you don’t want to do. It worked out well. We know Delly is a great defender, but we know he’s not a Curry stopper.”
Curry, of course, is too polished to talk about this publicly, although he did say his run-ins with Delly have featured some trash talk not suitable for younger viewers. It’s also very much like the great NBA players to find something, anything to use as fuel for motivation.
In Game 4, Curry changed how he attacked Dellavedova, attacking off the dribble quickly before the double team came. Combine that with a dead-legged Dellavedova who was not moving as quickly and you ended up with Curry getting past him and more open looks than he had in the first three games.
It will be interesting in Game 5 to see how things go with a more rested Dellavedova.