Klay Thompson calls Matthew Dellavedova’s late and-1 a ‘lucky’ shot


With 2:27 remaining in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors had cut a Cavaliers lead that was once at 20 points down to one, and seemed ready to continue their push to take control of this game, and potentially, the series.

But Matthew Dellavedova came up huge, just as he’s been doing for Cleveland the entire postseason.

Delly was absolutely mauled by Stephen Curry on a drive to the basket, but he somehow managed to float a high-arcing bank shot up and in as he stumbled to the floor.

The shot was indeed ridiculous, but Klay Thompson chose to characterize it in another way afterward.

From Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com:

After Game 3 in Cleveland, players were defensive, annoyed. After a reporter asked Draymond Green whether the players needed to “pump each other up,” the response wasn’t altogether inviting. …

There was angst over opportunities lost.

“I mean, that shot [Matthew Dellavedova] hit when we were down one when Steph fouled him, that was just lucky, man,” Klay Thompson said. “I guarantee he doesn’t practice that shot so, big player though, and we’re not going to let this game deflate us.”

The frustration in the Golden State locker room is understandable with the team now trailing 2-1 in the series. But the same can surely be said for some of Curry’s late-game looks, yet it’s unlikely that the Cavaliers would choose to discount any of those shots in the same way.

Stephen Curry, Warriors think they found something to build on in fourth quarter


Through three quarters Tuesday night, Stephen Curry just could not get shots to fall. Credit the Cavaliers defense, or say his shot was just off, the fact of the matter is he was 4-of-11 through 36 minutes of Game 3. But it was more than just Curry, the Cavaliers are being physical with Warriors players off the ball, and that is leading to some stagnation. The Cavaliers are getting back and taking away easy transition looks. They have taken the Warriors out of their comfort zone.

Add it all together the second straight game the Warriors were held to fewer than 60 points through three quarters — something that didn’t happen all season.

Then in the fourth quarter Curry woke up — he hit 5-of-8 from three, knocking down shots. Contested or not, no matter the degree of difficulty, the shots were falling.

“I think I found something when it comes to how I’m going to be able to attack their pick-and-rolls and even certain iso situations,” Curry said post game. “I’ll keep that in the memory bank going into Game 4, and hopefully it has a trickle over effect into the first quarter of the next game.”

Curry dropped 17, and the Warriors hung up a 36 spot in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough. Matthew Dellavedova and LeBron James made key plays down the stretch, and the Cavaliers hung on for the win, giving them a 2-1 series lead.

But the Warriors said they found something to build on, something they can carry over to Game 4 Thursday night.

“We became the aggressors,” Curry said. “Just like the last three minutes of Game 2. For us to win this series, we have to play that way the whole game. We have the depth, we have the talent to do it, whether we’re at home or on the road.”

“You have to make every possession like it’s your last possession,” Andre Iguodala said. “I feel like that’s the energy Cleveland’s playing with.”

Players and coach often speak of energy more than tactics, but that fourth quarter feature something new — David Lee setting the picks for Curry. Lee is an offensive threat in a way the struggling Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut have not been this series. According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com (using SportsVU cameras), when Lee screened Curry the team scored 20 points on 13 possessions (1.54 per possession), compared to 25 points on 40 possessions when anyone else was the screener for Curry (0.63 points per possession).

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said you can count on seeing more of Lee in Game 4, but what he liked was that his team showed some passion.

“I mean, you want to show some fight,” Kerr said. “And I thought in the third quarter we were hanging our heads a little bit, and it was good to see us bring the fight to the game. And that’s how we have to play the whole way through. It’s not just making shots. Obviously, that helps, but it’s fighting and it’s competing, and we’ve got to do that for 48 minutes.”

Iguodala used a better word than fight — execution. That is what the Warriors have lacked in their offense. The Cavaliers have made it difficult at every step, but in the face of that the Warriors stopped executing.

“It’s up to us to do the things that we haven’t been able to do on both ends of the floor. Executing small things. Small things are really biting us in the ass a little bit,” Iguodala said. “So loose balls they’ve gotten to every one of them. Offensive boards, second chance points, they seem to have a knack for those things, and we’ve got to come up with them…

“When we don’t get enough passes, we seem to rush even more. So we’ve just got to take our time, settle in, make them work a little bit more defensively. I think we found something there with David Lee that’s working for us. So he’s going to get some more minutes, I would like to think, going forward, and then other guys will see how effective he is and they’ll do the same. So we’ll have a steady diet of something we found that can work throughout the rest of the series.”

The Warriors had better hope so — and they need to use it and be aggressive from the opening tip of Game 4. The Warriors will either head home with the series tied and feeling confident or down 3-1 in a hole that, like the one they were in Tuesday night, they probably can’t climb out of.

LeBron sees people questioning his efficiency, raises them with 2-1 series lead


Through three games, LeBron James has 123 points — the most of anyone in NBA history through three Finals games. One more than Rick Barry in 1975, a couple more than the logo himself Jerry West back in 1969. LeBron’s 41 points a game average so far ties Michael Jordan’s highest-scoring Finals average. LeBron has scored these points while dragging a group of role players who, on paper, shouldn’t still be playing in June, to a 2-1  series in the NBA Finals.

And yet, because he’s LeBron James, there is criticism of his play.

LeBron has not been efficient getting all those points, shooting just 40.2 percent. The Cavaliers offense hasn’t been efficient this series with him scoring like this. LeBron acknowledged that criticism, then reminded everyone to check the scoreboard.

“I’m not okay with it, but I’m so outside the box right now,” LeBron said of his shooting percentage after Game 3. “I went seven straight seasons with improving my efficiency. Seven straight into this year, the previous seven seasons, seven straight seasons with improving my efficiency as far as shooting. But this is a different challenge. This is a totally different challenge. I’ve never played where two All-Stars were out. So it’s a different challenge for myself, and it’s outside the box, but it’s not too far. It’s not far for me to go grab….

“I’m high volume shooting, but it’s not like I’m going out there and I’m high volume shooting and I’m not doing anything else. I’m doing everything for our team to help our team win, and that’s all that matters.”

Everything, such as defending key guys every possession, or grabbing better than 12 rebounds and dishing out better than eight assists per game.

What we know about shooting efficiency is that it decreases the more offense a player has to take on, the higher the usage rate. LeBron’s usage rate through three Finals games is a crazy-high 42.4 — he has had to take on a ridiculously high percentage of the Cavaliers offensive load.

More than just the points (and rebounds, and assists), he’s controlling the tempo of the entire series — the average Finals game this series has had 93.7 possessions, that’s seven fewer possessions than the Warriors averaged during the regular season.

“He’s playing and we’re playing the way we want to play,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said.

If you ask the other guys on the court, LeBron is also lifting up his teammates.

“I mean, LeBron [James] is playing well.” Draymond Green said. “First it was really just him playing well, but now everybody else has kind of fallen in line.”

“He’s playing great basketball for us, and we’re just getting on his shoulders and just riding him through the game,” Tristan Thompson added.

LeBron understands efficiency, but he’s had to sacrifice that in the name of getting enough points on the board to get wins. The idea that the Cavaliers’ offense couldn’t be much worse without him is fanciful — the Warriors had the best defense in the NBA all season and have played well these Finals. It is the Cavaliers defense that is the biggest key to their success.

But if LeBron isn’t putting up these points, the Cavaliers would be losing low-scoring games, not winning them.

Matthew Dellavedova finally ran out of gas – only after propelling Cavaliers to Game 3 win


In a time the Cavaliers are lifting the civic pride of Northeast Ohio, David Blatt paid Matthew Dellavedova the ultimate compliment.

“Delly’s the most Cleveland-like Australian I’ve ever met in my life,” the Cavaliers coach said.

Dellavedova, who scored 20 points in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 win over the Warriors, is embracing his adopted city – including taking advantage of its fine medical establishment.

Yup, Dellavedova literally left it all on the floor.

The Legend of Delly grows – from undrafted to the second-best starter on a team leading the NBA Finals in just two years.

Native Clevelanders have embraced him for the same reasons his teammates have.

“The guys love Delly, because he just plays with all his heart, and he cares first about the team and only about the team,” Blatt said. “And whether he’s playing nine minutes or 40 minutes, he’s going to give you everything you have. What’s not to love about the guy?”

Blatt added Dellavedova is Kyrie Irving’s favorite teammate. “Loves the guy,” the coach said.

Irving, on the mend, wasn’t around to confirm – and at one point that definitely wasn’t true. But the other Cavaliers were quick to sing Dellavedova’s praises tonight.

Tristan Thompson: “Every night, he’s going to come out and bust his tail. He’s going to play hard every possession.”

LeBron James: “He gives us that grit, that grit that we need. He gives us everything until the tank is empty. Then, he has a small little reserve tank that he continues to work through. He’s huge for us.”

Dellavedova isn’t the most talented player, but his style fits Cleveland’s needs in a starting point guard right now. He hounded Stephen Curry defensively, nearly constantly pestering the MVP. It wasn’t until the assignments changed that Curry got going, though his run continued once Dellavedova switched back onto him. Dellavedova also made a pair of 3-pointers on assists from LeBron James.

LeBron will do the heavy lifting. He just needs teammates who complement him – who exert enough energy on defense to allow him to conserve for offense, who make the opens shots he creates.

That’s Dellavedova.

Dellavedova has started two games in the Finals, and he’s led all starters in plus-minus both times at +13. In 39 minutes tonight, he also added five rebounds and four assists to his 20 points.

“He’s had games like this. You may be surprised, because you don’t follow us all season. But he’s had some games like this,”Blatt said. “And I don’t even know that it’s a matter of confidence with Matt. I just think he plays as hard as he can every day. He plays right. He’s not afraid. He plays courageously.”

It’s even gotten to the point where a national audience can recognize Game 3 as a quintessential Dellavedova game.

He threw an alley-oop:

He committed an arguably dirty play:


He made a ridiculous/lucky shot:


He dove for a crucial loose ball:

“He’ll give you whatever he has,” Blatt said, “and you can’t ask for any more than that.”

But the Cavaliers will.

They’ve built this series lead in large part because of Dellavedova, and the options are slim behind him without Irving. They need Dellavedova healthy in Game 4.

Maybe that’s actually the ultimate compliment.

After Game 3 win, Cavs’ title chances are suddenly legitimate


CLEVELAND — This one never felt close, even when it was. What does feel close now is this series.

Even after their wild Game 2 win at Oracle Arena, it still felt like the Cavaliers were simply staying afloat against a better, and deeper, Warriors team. Without Kyrie Irving, LeBron James would simply have to do too much by himself for Cleveland to have a legitimate shot against Golden State.

Which is why The Cavs’ Game 3 win was so astonishing. A look at the box score makes the 96-91 score look like it was competitive, and Golden State did make it a game at the end. But it never felt like that, not before the Cavs blew it open in the third quarter, nor when the Warriors staged a comeback to cut a 17-point lead to one in the fourth quarter.

The Cavs have done in this series what the Warriors did throughout the regular season. They’ve been one step ahead of every adjustment the Warriors have made. They’ve controlled the pace and the flow, almost without exception. They’ve forced the Warriors to take tougher shots than usual, and they haven’t been falling.

“It’s so fun playing here,” said J.R. Smith. “It’s crazy. You get so much momentum playing here. I was telling Mike [Miller], we were sitting next to each other, I think the score was 5 to 10. I thought we were up 20 or something.”

That’s what it felt like all night. Every Warriors run had the Cavs ready with a counterpunch, mostly in the form of James, who once again did just enough to overcome the Warriors. Once again, he scored 40 points on a not-all-that-efficient 34 shots. It’s a role he’s resisted playing at other points in his career, and he isn’t thrilled about doing it now. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

“I’m not OK with it,” James said. “But I’m so outside the box right now. I went seven straight season with improving my efficiency. But this is a different challenge. I’ve never played where two All-Stars were out. So it’s a different challenge for myself, and it’s outside the box, but it’s not too far. It’s not far for me to go grab. I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to help. I’m high-volume shooting, but it’s not like I’m going out there and I’m high-volume shooting and I’m not doing anything else.”

On the contrary, he’s doing everything, and it has this Cavs team, improbably, two wins away from their first championship in franchise history. For the first time in the series, that seems like a real possibility.

“We’re playing against a great team, I think, who is very underrated,” said Warriors forward Andre Iguodala. “LeBron makes a lot of those guys good, but they’re a very good team. They’re just taking it to us right now.”

The Cavs didn’t just steal home-court advantage from the Warriors in a hectic final minute on Sunday. They’re now in control. They only have to split the next four games to take home the title. A fourth-quarter surge by the Warriors aside, all signs so far point to the Cavs doing what many thought was impossible.

“The pressure is like a 5.13,” Kerr said, laughing, when he was asked what the pressure is on his team, on a scale of 1-10. “We’re in the NBA Finals. There’s pressure for everybody. I was pleased with the way we responded when we got down, and I’m very confident we’ll play better in Game 4.”

Thursday won’t be do-or-die for the Warriors, but it won’t be far off.