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Delly could start for desperate Cavs

Roar Rookie
7th June, 2016
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Almost a year to the day Matthew Dellavedova etched his name into sporting folklore by hustling, diving and inspiring a win against Golden State, there are calls for the Australian to return to Cleveland’s starting line-up.

The Cavaliers, down 0-2 in the NBA Finals against the Warriors, are desperate.

Game three of the best-of-seven series is at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday (Thursday 11am AEST).

“Obviously it’s a do or die game for us,” Cavaliers’ leader LeBron James told reporters on Tuesday.

“We can’t afford to go down 0-3 to any team, especially a team that is 73 (wins) and nine (losses) in the regular season and playing the type of basketball they are playing.”

The Cavaliers may be forced to tinker with their starting line-up with forward Kevin Love in doubt for game three after suffering a concussion in game two.

There are also calls for the Cavaliers to bench guard JR Smith, who has taken just nine shots and missed six of them despite 70 minutes of playing time during the Finals.

Dellavedova rejected the calls to drop Smith.

“No, we have confidence in JR and he’s doing a good job,” Dellavedova said.

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“We just need to find a way to get him some more open looks.”

A year ago when the Warriors lost two games on their way to beating the Cavaliers for the title, Dellavedova became Cleveland’s unlikely hero.

He was elevated to the starting line-up when All-Star guard Kyrie Irving fractured a knee cap in the game one loss and the Australian was inspirational in their victories in games two and three.

Dellavedova was hospitalised with exhaustion after game three.

He threw his body on the floor and into the second row of spectators chasing loose balls and scored 20 points, five rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes on the court in the game three win.

Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue refused to say what lineup changes he might make.

“I’m not going to tell you,” Lue laughed.

The Warriors crushed the Cavaliers 104-89 and 110-77 in the first two games and Dellavedova said he expects his team to be more aggressive in game three.

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“Overall, rebounding, defence and even offence, just attack them more,” Dellavedova said.

One of the keys to the Warriors’ success has been their Australian centre Andrew Bogut, who had five blocks in game two.

Dellavedova said he was impressed with the high level his Rio Olympics teammate has been performing at.

“He’s been playing really well,” Dellavedova said.

“He anchors their defence, I think he had four or five blocks in the game, he finishes around the rim and sets really good screens for their shooters.”

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