CLEVELAND - Matthew Dellavedova walked to the podium carrying a cup filled with liquid in each hand. After his play in the last two games of the NBA Finals, someone from the Cavaliers should have carried them for him.
LeBron James is getting all the credit, and rightfully so, for having the Cavaliers up 2-1 on the Warriors in the series. His 41-point average is the highest through three games in NBA Finals history. But the previously obscure Dellavedova has had a huge impact on both ends of the court and has been all over the floor.
Dellavedova pushed himself to exhaustion in Tuesday's 96-91 victory. Following the game he suffered from dehydration and extreme cramping. Dellavedova was taken to an area hospital to receive an IV.
"Everything that he has, he lays out on the floor," James said Wednesday afternoon. "I think he dove on the ground an NBA record six times [Tuesday] night. And he was on the ground again after the game, and in the hospital so you could probably say seven times.
"He gives us everything that he has and we all appreciate it."
Dellavedova said that was the "tired-est" he's ever been after playing 38:31 Tuesday, and he was "feeling pretty good" now. He will play in Thursday's game when the Cavaliers try to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. "I'll be ready to go," Dellavedova said.
When coach David Blatt said he would limit Dellavedova's minutes, the gritty Australian told him, "No you're not." But Blatt said he would monitor Dellavedova's playing time.
Dellavedova has been thrust into the spotlight and a much larger role because All-Star guard Kyrie Irving fractured his kneecap in Game 1.
The undrafted second-year guard out of St. Mary's College of California in the Bay Area has been invaluable and irreplaceable for Cleveland in this series, and has been a part of so many pivotal plays.
Dellavedova is guarding NBA MVP Steph Curry -- and doing a good job of it. He scored a playoff career-high 20 points to go with five assists and four rebounds in Game 3. The Cavs' fans serenaded Dellavedova with chants of "Delly! Delly!" throughout the night. The loudest may have come after he was fouled by Curry and flung a shot that banked in late in the fourth quarter.
"They seem to like him, don't they?" Blatt said. "Delly's the most Cleveland-like Australian I've ever met in my life. The guys love Delly because he just plays with all his heart and he cares first about the team and only about the team."
Dellavedova has played more than 80 minutes the past two games. He was credited for containing Curry in Game 2, and has made big plays late in each game to help Cleveland earn the win. His popularity has skyrocketed.
"To be honest with you, I'm not really paying attention to any of it," he said. "Just locked in on the goal and the job that needs to be done."
Dellavedova is getting some positive attention after being labeled dirty for his involvement in three incidents during this playoff run -- with Bulls forward Taj Gibson, and Al Horford and Kyle Korver of the Hawks.
Cavs teammate and former Knick J.R. Smith said Dellavedova is "a very fearless competitor" while fellow Australian Andrew Bogut said his team needs to try and limit Dellavedova's impact.
"He's been probably their X-factor in the series," said Bogut, the Warriors' center.
"He's played probably his two best games of the season in this series. We have to adjust and make sure his energy doesn't do what it's been doing."