CLEVELAND — Matthew Dellavedova is out of the hospital — no doubt after knocking over a few gurneys and undercutting an anesthesiologist or two — and back into the NBA Finals, not to mention into the hearts and minds of the Warriors and their fans.
Any chance that Dellavedova, the Cleveland Cavaliers' point guard and resident Tasmanian devil, might not participate in Game 4 tonight ended when he was pronounced fit for duty on Wednesday. That assumes he is able to replenish the fluids and electrolytes that led to severe cramping at the end of his team's 96-91 victory one night earlier.
What Dellavedova did during his 38 minutes on the floor led to results even more painful for the visitors. As a substitute for the injured Kyrie Irving, Dellavedova scored 20 points and provided just enough assistance to LeBron James (40 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) on offense.
Meanwhile, Dellavedova badgered Warriors guard Stephen Curry into a forgettable first three quarters. Curry finished with 27 points but got 17 of them in the fourth period, when the insertion of reserve David Lee into the line-up scrambled the Cavaliers defense with positive results.
Other than at a few watch parties at St. Mary's College, where Dellavedova played his college ball, the feisty overachiever has become every bit the irritant to the Warriors that he was to the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks in previous rounds. There haven't been any incidents on par with the ones he had with Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver and Al Horford back then, but his pinball style has made the Warriors look fatigued, frustrated and even beaten at times.
“He's an NBA player,” Curry told reporters on the off day. “He's here for a reason, so there is a reason he's able to impact the game for them. He's made some plays the last couple games that helped them win games. So there is no discrediting him as a player just because of where he's come from and his background.
“Doesn't matter who I'm matched up against or what the narrative is or what's being said outside of our locker room. So I know his strengths, his weaknesses, and he knows mine. We're going to keep battling, and hopefully I'll get the best of him over seven games.”
Iman Shumpert also has logged minutes sticking to Curry, but he had to leave in the first quarter of Game 3 after banging his left shoulder hard into a Draymond Green screen. Shumpert passed his MRI examination and said he won't be missing any Finals game without something structurally wrong in that shoulder.
So Curry and the rest of the Warriors will have to go through what's left of the Cavaliers rather than around them. That's the tactic that suits Dellavedova, obviously, as he crashes into people and things not just on the court but around its perimeter.
“I'm definitely not surprised as much as everyone else is,” said Irving, who showed up on crutches four days after knee surgery. “We were in summer workouts in Vegas together. First time I went to Vegas, first time I played against him, he commanded my respect. Whether that be in a pick-up game or us playing a scrimmage in practice, it was going to be hard fought, and I knew exactly what I was getting myself into.
“So once you step into that — I want to call it a ring — with Delly, you better be ready to rumble. So for anyone that's ready to go, he's ready to go all the time.”
And by that, the Cavaliers mean all the time. Coach David Blatt considered monitoring Dellavedova's minutes in Game 4 to make sure that the cramping or dehydration didn't pose any more problems.
“I told him I was going to limit his minutes,” Blatt said. “And he said, 'No, you're not.'”