LeBron James rued over Kyrie Irving’s injury as his side missed the point-guard’s performance in game 2. But Irving’s replacement Matthew Dellavedova turned out to be a match-winner at the Quicken Loans Arena, Ohio on Tuesday. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the game 3 to take 2-1 lead in the NBA Final series over the Golden State Warriors.
None in the Cavs camp expected Dellavedova to return with career-playoff high 20 points on Tuesday. The Australian did a remarkable job to restrict MVP Stephen Curry to only 3 points in the first half. Curry though fired 24 points to display his brilliance in the second half to finish with 27, but that wasn’t enough to match LeBron James’ game-high 40, which guided the Cavs to 96-91 win at home.
“If there’s a ball on the ground, he’s going to be the first guy on the ground. He showed it multiple times tonight, he’s huge for our team. He gives that grit, that grit that we need,” James said about his Australian team-mate after game 3. “He gives us everything until the tank is empty. He has a small little reserve tank that he continues to work through. He’s huge for us.”
The home-crowd were wild as Dellavedova produced a clutch play in the final minute of the game. He ultimately held Curry to 10 of 20 shooting and the MVP only managed 3 unchallenged shots in the entire game.
“Delly’s the most Cleveland-like Australian I’ve ever met in my life,” Cavs’ coach David Blatt said. “And if you’re from Cleveland, you know just what I’m talking about.”
James, after another stellar show to put the Cavs in an advantageous situation in the series, revealed, ”I don’t know if I can continue to put up these type of numbers but I know I’ll continue to lead these guys every single night.” The Cavs’ all-star also had 12 rebounds and 8 assists to his credit on Tuesday.
Winner of 5 NBA Championships, Kobe Bryant tweeted, ”Cavs playing as if their life is on the line,” after the game 3.
Game 4 is at the same venue on Friday.