Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Matthew Dellavedova has become an unlikely star of the 2015 NBA Finals between the Cavs and the Golden State Warriors. He continued his incredible run Tuesday night, dropping 20 points in a 96-91 Game 3 win over the Warriors, which moved the series to 2-1 in the Cavs' favor.
The 24-year-old Australian's success was far from pre-ordained. ESPN personality Colin Cowherd tweeted during Game 2 -- in which the point guard scored nine points in 42 minutes -- that Dellavedova might be the worst player to ever see significant playing time in a Finals series.
Matt Dellavedova, this may seem a tad harsh, could be the worst player ever in a Finals to get major minutes.
â€” Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) June 8, 2015
Just say it---Matt Dellavedova--finals MVP.
— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) June 8, 2015
The 6-foot-4-inch guard played for St. Mary's college in California from 2009-2013. He ended his career as the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,933 points. Dellavedova averaged at least 35 minutes of playing time per game during his college years and set career highs in his senior year with 15.8 ppg and 6.4 apg. Still, the Olympics and college star went unchosen in the 2013 draft.
He eventually signed with the Cavaliers, playing in 72 games during his 2013-14 rookie season. This season, he averaged just 4.8 points a game. He's upped that number to 7.5 points in the postseason and taken on a dedicated following with occasional postseason scoring outbursts, dropping 17 in a game against the Atlanta Hawks and 19 in a game against the Chicago Bulls.
Recently, Dellavedova has come on strong since replacing injured star Kyrie Irving -- who suffered a knee injury in Game 1 of the NBA Finals -- in the starting lineup. The Australian has become known for a scrappy style of play -- routinely throwing himself to the floor for loose balls -- big shots and a pestering defense.
In Game 3, Dellavedova hit a wild, flailing shot -- and a free throw after a foul call -- that helped stop a Warriors scoring run, putting the Cavs up 84-80 in the fourth quarter. It was just one of many big plays in perhaps the best game of the point guard's life. His 20 points provided a solid second option to suprstar LeBron James' dominating 40-point performance. Dellavedova, his style of play so unrelenting, needed hospital treatment for bad cramps after the game. "He's going to throw his body all over the place," James said of his teammate after the win, according to ESPN.
Dellavedova is an incredible story no matter how this series ends.
â€” Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) June 10, 2015
Dellavedova, on the bench, just turned the Gatorade into wine.
— Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) June 10, 2015