Matthew Dellavedova starred in the Cavaliers' dramatic 96–91 victory against the Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday, but not without a little controversy.
Dellavedova scored a playoff career-high 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting, but he was also caught once again toeing the line between being a physical player and a dirty one. As the Warriors' Stephen Curry brought the ball down the court early in the first quarter, Warriors forward Draymond Green hit Dellavedova with a hard screen, which may have included a little elbow jab for good measure. Dellavedova, a former rugby player, responded with a blow to the back of Green's left knee, which could have ended much worse than the quick dust-up it ended up being.
This isn't the first time that Dellavedova's physicality has stuck out this postseason. After the Hawks' Al Horford was ejected for throwing a retaliatory elbow at the Cavs' feisty point guard in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, a number of Hawks players, including DeMarre Carroll, questioned whether Dellavedova was dirty.Dellavedova was involved in the play that ended Kyle Korver's season after the two went after a loose ball. And earlier in the postseason, Chicago's Taj Gibson was ejected for kicking Dellavedova after the two were battling for rebounding position in Cleveland's Game 5 victory over the Bulls. In both situations, Dellavedova escaped without penalty.
Though Dellavedova may have earned a bad reputation with opponents, Cavaliers teammate LeBron James doesn't believe it's warranted, and vehemently defended his point guard earlier this postseason. ”This is my teammate, and this is a guy that goes out and works his tail off every single night and people are trying to give him a bad rap," James said after the game. "He doesn't deserve it, and I don't like it."
SI's Best Photos From Game 3 of the NBA Finals
SI's Best Photos from Game 3: Matthew Dellavedova rose to the occasion again for the Cavaliers in Game 3, scoring 20 points and making several hustle plays to help Cleveland win 96-91 to grab a two games to one lead in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James converted this alley-oop pass from Matthew Dellavedova (far right) for a pivotal basket in the fourth quarter.
Despite Steph Curry's attempt to hold Matthew Dellavedova back, the Cavs guard kept driving toward the basket on this play and hit a circus shot off the glass and drew a foul.
Steph Curry found his shooting touch in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points as the Warriors, who trailed by 20 in the third quarter, refused to go away. (Text credit: AP)
Matthew Dellavedova dove to the floor for a loose ball ahead of the Warriors.
LeBron James finished with 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in 46 minutes.
Tristan Thompson scored 10 points and had 13 rebounds for Golden State.
LeBron James has scored 123 points in the series, the most ever scored by a player through the first three games of the Finals.
LeBron James threw down a monster dunk in the first half.
LeBron James's 40-point effort followed 44-point and 39-point efforts in Games 1 and 2, respectively.
Timofey Mozgov blocks a shot by Festus Ezeli.
The Warriors' Klay Thompson attempts to grab a loose ball.
LeBron James attempted 34 shots in his 46 minutes on the floor.
Tristan Thompson makes an emphatic finish on an easy basket.
Steph Curry scored only three points in the first quarter on 1-of-6 shooting and had only 10 at halftime.
Cleveland held the NBA's highest scoring team to a measley 37 points in the first half.