EIGHTEEN months ago very few basketball fans in Cleveland knew who Matthew Dellavedova was.
On Tuesday night in downtown Cleveland in game four of the NBA eastern conference finals, the Quicken Loans Arena rocked to the chant of “Delly, Delly, Delly”.
LeBron James aside, Dellavedova has become the darling of the Cavs’ fans with his no-fuss, team-first mentality.
Dellavedova was unfairly branded a dirty player by Atlanta players and sections of the US media for incidents he was involved in with Hawks’ duo Kyle Korver and Al Horford.
The Cavs' fans made sure Dellavedova knew they had his back when he entered the court for the first time in game four against the Hawks.
“It bought a tear to my eye… it was overwhelming,’’ Matthew’s mother, Leanne, said from her Maryborough home after watching the Cavaliers dismantle Atlanta to advance to the NBA Finals.
“The Cavs’ fans have always been very supportive of Matthew,’’ his father Mark added.
“In this game it was almost as if they went out of their way to support him because of the way he’d been mistreated.”
Dellavedova responded to the rapturous welcome by nailing a three-point bomb. He finished the game with 10 points, two rebounds and one assist as the Cavs won 118-88.
In his first play-off series Dellavedova is averaging seven points, three assists and two rebounds per game, while his tenacity at the defensive end of the floor has played on the minds of the Boston, Chicago and Atlanta guards.
“He’s always made the most of his opportunities and he appreciates every opportunity he gets,’’ Leanne said.
“He regards the play-offs as the biggest opportunity of all time. It’s something he’s always dreamed of doing.”
The fact Dellavedova has raised his game at play-off time comes as no surprise to his biggest fans.
“Even playing in junior state tournaments he would play his best basketball in finals,’’ Mark said.
“He’s always been good at reading what role his team needs him to play and that’s starting to flow on with the Cavs.”
Cleveland will play either the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets in the best of seven game NBA Finals, starting on June 4.
Mark and Leanne are hoping to make the trip to the US to watch some of the series.
“Hopefully (Andrew) Bogut (Golden State centre) gets to the NBA Finals as well, so that we’re guaranteed of an Aussie winning,’’ Mark said.