Not many players who score nine points and three rebounds in 27 minutes deserve consideration for starter’s minutes. Then again, not many are Matthew Dellavedova.
Dellavedova, a 6’4 rookie shooting guard from Australia and St Mary’s (CA), may have earned a closer look at being on the court more after his energetic and hustling brand of defense on Washington Wizards sharpshooter, Bradley Beal in the Cavs 98-91 loss Wednesday.
A non-stop bundle of relentless ball pressure and tenacity, Dellavedova practically blanketed Beal, who single-handily blistered the Cavs in hitting six of seven three-pointers, en route to a Wizards team-high 26 points.
Down 27 points in the third quarter, Delleavedova smothered, harried and harassed the second-year Beal into some bad shots and passes during the Cavs fourth-quarter charge that cut the deficit to four with 2:56 left in the game, thanks to Irving scoring 11 straight of his game-high 28.
As I wrote in a column before, after the Cavs thrilling double-overtime win over the Sixers, Cleveland would be wise to go to a three-guard lineup in key situations that would consist of Kyrie Irving, Jarrett Jack and Dion Waiters.
After watching the energetic and hustling performance of Dellavedova on Beal, I would revise that suggestion of having the Australian in a three-guard set along side his “Australian brother” in Irving, Jack and have Waiters come in off the bench, as he used to do in college at Syracuse.
With such a lineup you’d have two top-quality guards in Irving and Jack that can attack and make shots, with Dellavedova providing a spark on defense, passing and offer Cleveland some much-needed grit and hustle in a Bruce Bowen-like specialist role.
The season is still long, and clearly the Cavaliers are in flux in trying to figure things out, but if there is one thing that they uncovered in their loss to Washington was a scrappy and tough-minded bulldog on defense in Dellavedova.