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):
Or in the playoffs:
|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|
|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.