Matthew Dellavedova is the most improbable leading scorer of these playoffs

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LeBron James – at a level rivaled in the last decade by only the pre-Heat version of himself – has carried the Cavaliers throughout these playoffs.

Cleveland seemingly needed him more than ever in Game 6 against the Bulls on Thursday. Not only was Kevin Love obviously still out, Kyrie Irving left the game with a knee injury.

But LeBron was just 2-for-9 and hadn’t made a 3-pointer or gotten to the free-throw line midway through the second quarter. Cleveland trailed by one.

Enter Matthew Dellavedova.

Dellavedova – an undrafted second-year player best known for leg-locking Taj Gibson – led Cleveland with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers, in the 94-73 series-clinching win.

How improbable was it that Dellavedova would lead a team in scoring during an NBA playoff game?

He averaged just 4.8 points per game during the regular season, and even with this outburst, he’s still averaging just 6.0 points per game in the playoffs.

None of the other 134 players, counting ties, to lead a team in scoring this postseason (gold) scored fewer points per game in the regular season than Dellavedova (wine):

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Or in the playoffs:

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Player Games as team’s leading scorer Points per game (regular season) Points per game (playoffs)
James Harden (HOU) 9 27.4 26.3
Stephen Curry (GSW) 7 23.8 27.8
LeBron James (CLE) 7 25.3 26.5
Blake Griffin (LAC) 7 21.9 25.4
Jimmy Butler (CHI) 6 20.0 22.9
Bradley Beal (WAS) 6 15.3 22.8
Marc Gasol (MEM) 6 17.4 19.6
DeMarre Carroll (ATL) 5 12.6 16.4
Anthony Davis (NOP) 4 24.4 31.5
Monta Ellis (DAL) 4 18.9 26.0
Chris Paul (LAC) 4 19.1 21.7
Derrick Rose (CHI) 4 17.7 20.3
Kawhi Leonard (SAS) 3 16.5 20.3
Brook Lopez (BRK) 3 17.2 19.8
Tim Duncan (SAS) 3 13.9 17.9
Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 3 16.4 17.5
Jeff Teague (ATL) 3 15.9 14.8
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) 2 23.4 21.8
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) 2 17.3 21.2
Klay Thompson (GSW) 2 21.7 20.8
DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 2 20.1 20.3
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 2 21.7 19.8
Dwight Howard (HOU) 2 15.8 17.3
Khris Middleton (MIL) 2 13.4 15.8
Paul Millsap (ATL) 2 16.7 15.3
Mike Conley (MEM) 2 15.8 14.9
Damian Lillard (POR) 1 21.0 21.6
C.J. McCollum (POR) 1 6.8 17.0
Joe Johnson (BRK) 1 14.4 16.5
Al Horford (ATL) 1 15.2 15.8
Paul Pierce (WAS) 1 11.9 15.8
Zach Randolph (MEM) 1 16.1 15.7
J.J. Redick (LAC) 1 16.4 15.2
Pau Gasol (CHI) 1 18.5 14.4
Nicolas Batum (POR) 1 9.4 14.2
Marcin Gortat (WAS) 1 12.2 13.6
Courtney Lee (MEM) 1 10.1 13.4
DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 1 11.5 12.8
Lou Williams (TOR) 1 15.5 12.8
Jarrett Jack (BRK) 1 12.0 12.3
Kyle Lowry (TOR) 1 17.8 12.3
Jared Sullinger (BOS) 1 13.3 12.3
Michael Carter-Williams (MIL) 1 14.6 12.2
Kyle Korver (ATL) 1 12.1 12.1
Deron Williams (BRK) 1 13.0 11.8
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 1 12.7 11.5
Amir Johnson (TOR) 1 9.3 11.5
Alan Anderson (BRK) 1 7.4 11.0
Mike Dunleavy (CHI) 1 9.4 10.9
Evan Turner (BOS) 1 9.5 10.5
Otto Porter (WAS) 1 6.0 10.3
Dennis Schroder (ATL) 1 10.0 10.2
Marco Belinelli (SAS) 1 9.2 9.3
O.J. Mayo (MIL) 1 11.4 9.0
Nene (WAS) 1 11.0 8.2
Ramon Sessions (WAS) 1 6.3 8.1
Beno Udrih (MEM) 1 7.7 8.0
Zaza Pachulia (MIL) 1 8.3 6.7
Matthew Dellavedova (CLE) 1 4.8 6.0

LeBron finished Game 6 with just 15 points on 7-of-23 shooting. He’d been 0-9 in the playoffs when scoring so little.

Of course, none of those previous nine games came with Dellavedova at his side.

The Greek Freak has arrived, Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA MVP

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Mike Budenholzer came in with a plan — an offense built around the fact no one man on the planet can guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It worked. The Bucks won 60 games and had the best record in the NBA. Budenholzer picked up Coach of the Year hardware for his efforts.

Now Antetokounmpo has won the NBA MVP award, edging out James Harden (who chose not to attend the NBA’s awards show in Los Angeles Monday). He was emotional in thanking teammates and family for helping him reach this point.

Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, but it was his ability to destroy any defender one-on-one that made the Bucks offense work. Either the Greek Freak got to the basket and finished, he drew a foul, or he drew so much attention the shooters that surrounded him on the floor had clean looks of their own. He also was the Bucks best defender, a guy tasked with tough assignments nightly.

Antetokounmpo was the best player on the best team.

James Harden — who averaged 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game — finished second in the voting, Paul George of Oklahoma City was third. Harden has finished first or second in the voting for four of the past five seasons. Harden believed he deserved to win.

The last player from Europe to win the MVP award was Dirk Nowitzki in 2007.

 

Rudy Gobert wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year for second straight season

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Rudy Gobert owns the paint for the Utah Jazz.

And he owns the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gobert won his second straight DPOY award Monday night, beating out the other 2019 finalists Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George.

The Jazz had the second best defense in the regular season and it is completely built around Gobert and his abilities in the paint, which is what separated him for this award. Utah’s defense was 20.1 points per 100 possessions better when Gobert was on the court and gave up less than a point per possession with him as the anchor.

This was a deep field with players such as Myles Turner of the Pacers, Joel Embiid of the 76ers and others getting votes as well.

Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer named NBA Coach of the Year

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Mike Budenholzer unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo and from the start that made him the Coach of the Year favorite (and maybe Antetokounmpo MVP).

It was a wire-to-wire win for Budenholzer, who was the frontrunner for this award from early on and was named the NBA Coach of the Year Monday night, the second time he has won this award (Atlanta in 2015).

Budenholzer was the favorite with good reason. The Bucks won 16 more games than the season before and had the best record in the NBA, they improved their net rating by +10.1, and became a top-five team on both ends of the floor. To be fair, part of Budenholzer’s success was a contrast to how poorly the previous coach handled this roster, but give Budenholzer credit for utilizing players well.

He beat out Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Mike Malone of the Nuggets in what was a very deep field for this award.

Clippers’ Lou Williams won second-straight, third overall Sixth Man of Year Award

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The Clippers bench play this season was the reason they made the playoffs (and pushed the Warriors to six games in the first round). Montrezl Harrell blossomed into his own as part of that.

However, it was Lou Williams who made it all work, which is why he won his second straight (and third overall) Sixth Man of the Year Award on Monday night. He garnered 96 of the 100 first-place votes.

Williams spoke from the heart about second chances and his faith in himself.

“Four years ago, I thought I was done, like I was coming to the end of my career,” Williams said.

Williams averaged 20 points a game and he is still one of the better bucket getters in the NBA, an isolation master. What he did better this year, however, was playmaking, dishing out 5.4 assists per game. His teammate Montrezl Harrell — the NBA’s best energy big off the bench last season who finished third in the Sixth Man voting — was the biggest beneficiary of those passes.

Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis came in second in the voting, with Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets third and Terrence Ross of Orlando fifth. Here is the voting breakdown.