Matthew Dellavadova’s scrappy play this post season has been the leading non-Lebron story to come out of the playoffs following allegations that he doesn’t just play scrappy, he plays dirty.
Let’s cut to the chase and look more closely at the three plays that have come under scrutiny. Everyone agrees there’s a pattern of behavior, but like Coach Blatt the only pattern I see is the a hustling player who never quits, a player who stands up for himself, and a player who gives it all every night for his teammates.
Chicago and Taj Gibson. Here’s what I saw. Gibson pounded Delly going for the rebound. Delly leg locked him. Gibson whip kicked him. Gibson deserved flagrant 1, not a flagrant 2. His ejection gave the Cavs an advantage in that game. Delly was not the instigator or this incident, but he was not blameless either. He deserved the technical assessed by the league the next day following review.
Delly’s leg lock was not a basketball play. I thought it retaliatory, his way of getting back at Gibson for shoving him in the back. But, and this is an important but, the leg lock was not a tactic that risked injury to Gibson. It was a delaying tactic, designed to buy a second or two, and to let Gibson know Delly wouldn’t be pushed around. Did Delly deserve the technical? Yes. Was it a terrible cheap shot? Not in the least.
Atlanta and Kyle Korver. Delly went for the ball. He rolled Korver’s ankle while doing so. A very unfortunate accident, but that’s all it was, an accident. Even the Hawks thought so after game 2. It wasn’t until the game 3 incident with Horford that they started suggesting otherwise.
Atlanta and Al Horford. What a crazy play. Delly tries to box out Horford. Demarre Carroll tumbles to the floor. Delly leaps over/past him to avoid collision. Horford hooks Delly, grabs him, and pulls him to the floor, a fact rarely mentioned by the media reporting the story.
While falling, it looks like Delly has a little spring to his step. I even called it a rugby roll while watching live. After seeing the replay many times I no longer think so. I believe the simultaneous effect of Delly trying to clear Carroll on the floor and the force of Horford tugging on him created the forward momentum seen when he rolled into Horford.
Then Horford, apparently thinking Delly was trying to take out his legs, brought the elbow down. I thought he made contact with Delly’s chest and shoulder, not his head. Again, I thought a flagrant 1 warranted on Horford, but not a flagrant 2.
In post-game interviews several Hawks, and media members, have blasted Dellavadova, suggesting that he cost them Korver for the series and Horford for the balance of Game 3. Korver, I can buy that one from their perspective, but Horford? No way. They lost Horford for one reason and one reason only. He lost his cool and retaliated with a non-basketball play. I agree he shouldn’t have been ejected, but that’s on the refs, not on Delly. Blaming the loss of Horford on Delly represents a lack of accountability.
Dellavadova plays hard not dirty. In a recent interview, Kyrie Irving said he didn’t care for Delly the first three months they were teammates. When asked why, Kyrie said that he had to practice against him every day, as if that explained it. That’s why we love having Dellavadova on the Cavs roster. He always gives it 100%. I just have one suggestion for him over the summer – Delly, work on your falling. It’s obvious you’re not going to stop diving for balls, so figure out how to land better and safer. Go Cavs!
Till the next post,