A topic that has been more relevant since Game 3 is whether or not point guard Matthew Dellavedova is a dirty player or just scrappy. Different opinions have been thrown around since Sunday night by the media. Only Delly knows of his real intentions when diving on the floor, but here is my take:
Dellavedova has been criticized for a few questionable plays he has made during these playoffs. In game 5 vs Chicago Matthew locked PF Taj Gibson’s leg between his own. As retaliation Gibson kicked Delly and was ejected from the game. More recently in game 2 vs the Hawks Delly dove for a lose ball and took out Kyle Korver’s legs, ending Korver’s season in the process. And on Sunday night he was involved in a play where he fell on Al Horford’s legs. As a result Horford attempted what looked like a WWE elbow drop move and was ejected from the game. So was this just pure grit and hustle ? Or was Dellavedova trying to hurt someone?
After further review, Matthew Dellavedova was assessed a technical foul and Al Horford a flagrant foul type two and an ejection. Here are all four angles of the play at hand:
Dellavedova defended himself after the play:
“I saw the ball. I dove on the ball. If I stay on my belly, it’s going to be a jump ball,” said Dellavedova. “So I protect the ball and kick it out to a teammate. On the other one, I’m boxing him out. He’s pulling my left arm down. I’m trying to stay up and he’s just pulling me down. The tape’s there.”
LeBron told the media what he thought on Sunday night after the game:
“You just play the game the right way. At this point, you’re trying to do whatever it takes to win. You don’t hurt anybody. No one I don’t think in our league goes around trying to hurt people. But you don’t take the aggressive nature out of the game.”
I don’t think I could have said it better. If diving on the floor for a loose ball, doing whatever it takes to win is dirty, then I don’t know what the NBA has come to.
Reggie Miller joined the Dan Patrick Show where he gave his take on the play of Dellavedova:
“Is he a dirty player? Absolutely Not! I love his grit, I love his hustle, I love his tenacity. And with Kyrie Irving being out, to me, he’s been the third best player behind Tristan Thompson [and LeBron James].
“For people who are hating on him and saying he’s a dirty player. Absolutely not! I love Dellavedova. You just got be careful.”
There is nothing wrong with a player stepping onto the court and doing the little things. Delly does the little things, he boxes out hard, sprints back on defense, dives for lose balls, crashes the glass, and plays his heart out for every minute he is on the floor. Delly is not a dirty player, it is the playoffs and he is doing whatever it takes for the Cavs to win games. You can’t win a championship without doing the little things. There is no real evidence on tape that anything Delly has done was intentional. He is a little guy with not much athleticism so he has to make up for that with grit and hustle. Matthew Dellevedova is not a dirty player and he must play with the intensity and passion he has thus far for the Cavs to win an NBA title.