Matthew Dellavedova has proven time and time again that he is a defensive stopper. He can bring the crowd to life with a steal. He stifles opposing guards with his tenacity. He’s not afraid to hustle and can draw fouls due to his pesky defense. He can knock down threes and pass well. This is what he was known for in Cleveland. This is why Delly was so highly sought after by the Bucks.
Sunday afternoon’s performance was no exception as Dellavedova was hounding Boston on nearly every inbound after every bucket. Like a cobra in the final seconds in the first quarter, Delly struck with a steal and a score to put the Bucks up 24-17. During his time on the floor in the first half, it seemed like Boston’s Terry Rozier could do nothing. The pressure was constant and consistent. Delly was suffocating him. Rozier would not make his first field goal until the 2nd quarter with 6:13 left. Much of that had to do with Dellavedova’s defense.
Delly also proved to be effective on the offensive side of the ball racking up 4 points and 4 assists in his 17 minutes off the bench. Although it may sound pedestrian, what the box score won’t tell you is how often Dellavedova was directing traffic, dishing out hockey assists on extra passes, and even setting a screen on Al Horford in the second quarter that led to an easy dunk by Giannis Antetokounmpo from Khris Middleton. Late in the third, Delly secured a pivotal rebound off of a blocked shot by Middleton leading to a layup in transition to put the Bucks back up by 10. Dellavedova lived up to his reputation of being a spark plug and the fans bore witness as to why the Bucks gave him the 4 year, 38 million dollar contract he signed in 2016.
Another key component to Dellavedova’s play is his impact on the team and the fans. It began in Game 4 with the steal and score at the end of the first quarter which electrified the sold out crowd at the Bradley Center. You could almost feel the momentum shifting early as the Bucks began their run from that point on and brought their lead all the way up to 20 in the 3rd quarter. Due to his low usage and ability to pass the ball efficiently, Delly endears himself to his teammates and Coach Prunty by passing first rather than taking contested shots or making bad decisions on broken plays. Although it might not directly lead to assists for Delly, this leads to extra passes from other teammates which leads to a more fluid, unselfish form of basketball that any professional NBA team would thrive upon. The hustle that Dellavedova provides also proved to be contagious as the Bucks broke the franchise blocks record of 13 set in Game 3 with 14 blocks in Game 4. These are the intangibles that are so highly sought after in role players across the league and the Bucks have one of the best in Dellavedova when it comes to pure hustle and perseverance and it has an immediate impact on the level of intensity in which the teammates around them begin to play at.
The Bucks went on to win 104-102 over the Celtics. Delly didn’t see a minute in the 4th quarter but he made a major impact in the limited minutes he did see in his time on the floor. Delly finished his night with 4 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 turnover with a +12 plus/minus rating in 17 minutes. Between Jabari Parker, Thon Maker, and Dellavedova, this is what the Bucks sorely needed in Games 1 and 2. A bench presence. A sense of urgency. Tenacity. Defense. A spark plug. This Bucks team got the boost from the bench at home in Games 3 and 4. They now need to transition this energy and continue to utilize the bench and Dellavedova if they want to take Game 5 from the Celtics in Boston.