Cavs take Game 2 behind Cleveland's unlikely hero
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
With just under a minute to play in overtime, and the game on the line, Matthew Dellavedova did what he does best. He chased after a James Jones missed 3-point attempt from the left corner, and ended up being in the right place at the right time to draw a loose ball foul with the game on the line.
On the possession, James made an across his body bullet pass, displaying the eyes in the back of his head to find specialist James Jones open in the corner.
"Usually when JJ (Jones), J.R. (Smith) and Mike Miller shoot, we don't rebound because most of the time they make them," said James.
Dellavedova rebounded, though. Guys who live off of diving for loose balls take nothing for granted.
"Time and situation," James said. "One (point) down. We would have had to foul if (Jones) didn't make it, so you don't want to leave anything to chance."
Dellavedova stepped to the line with the Cavaliers trailing by a single-point. In what was, hands down, the biggest moment of his life, he wasn't fazed. He knocked down both free throws to give the Cavaliers a one-point lead with just over 30 seconds left in overtime.
From there, he only had one job left. To continue to annoy and pester the league's MVP, for one more possession. And that's exactly what the scrappy Aussie did. It was truly remarkable. Is there anyone who disagrees with this statement? The Cavaliers' Game 2 win Sunday night will go down as one of the most improbable wins in sports history.
The game ended when Cavaliers guard, Iman Shumpert, got his hand on a pass from Stephen Curry with just seconds remaining, but it was the play of James and Dellavedova that lifted the Cavaliers on this night.
When guarded by Dellavedova, Curry turned the ball over four times, and shot a dismal 0-for-8 from the field. With Dellavedova in his face, Curry attempted five three pointers, and he didn't hit a single one.
Dellavedova, a bench player, held the league's MVP scoreless in an NBA Finals game on the road. Curry finished maybe the worst game of his life, 5-of-23 from the field.
Dellavedova played 42 minutes, stepping in place of injured Cavaliers point guard, Kyrie Irving. Dellavedova struggled offensively, but he scored all nine of his crucial points during the fourth quarter and overtime.
"Delly has been counted out his whole life," said LeBron James, moments after his Cavaliers hung on to capture the first NBA Finals win in Cavaliers franchise history. "He just continues to beat the odds."
In both the regular season and playoffs, the Warriors had lost only three games at Oracle Arena all season coming into Game 2, but the way they lost this one has to sting. The Cavaliers came into this game with virtually everybody counting them out. Nobody could have predicted the way Game 2 played out on Sunday night. Maybe, except for James and Dellavedova.
Let's not forget about yet another historical performance from the leader of the Cavaliers. James was brilliant, again. He finished the game with 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. This was without a doubt, one of James' greatest all-time performances.
The four-time MVP showed the current MVP why he's still the best basketball player on the planet, and why it's not even close. On this night, James made everybody on his team better. That's what separates the two, and anyone else who has to deal with the tall order of being compared to James.
I'm not taking anything away from Curry. He might be the best shooter in the history of basketball, when he's open. But he doesn't have the ability to dominate a basketball game on both sides of the ball, while elevating the level of play from his teammates.
James is simply a once in a lifetime type of player, and he continues to show it on a nightly basis in this series. Coming into this series, I picked the Cavaliers in six games because of James' experience on the Finals stage.
I'll be honest, when Kyrie Irving went down, I was not so confident in my prediction of Cavs in 6. But unlike the national media, I never counted the Cavs out. You just can't do it, and James and company proved exactly why.
However, the Cavaliers aren't out of the woods in this series yet. They still have three more wins to capture before James can go down as maybe the best basketball player ever to play the game.
The Cavaliers will need to continue to bring their A-game if they plan on defeating Golden State three more times. It's not likely Curry has another awful performance like he did on Sunday night.
The Cavs must make adjustments, which David Blatt has done at a high level, and show how they've improved from one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA to the best.
The Cavaliers will also need guard J.R. Smith to keep his head in the game. We saw flashes of Smith's days with the Knicks on Sunday and that's a sight not a single Cavs fan wants to see. He made a few questionable decisions that could have cost the team. Key words, could have, but you know James is going to get on him for it and make sure it doesn't happen again.
Jeff Van Gundy said during the broadcast, "stupid gets you beat," and he was spot on in the moment. During his time as a Cavalier, Smith has done a great job showing he's not the same J.R. from his Knicks days, but on Sunday night that wasn't the case.
The Cavs will need the J.R. they've become accustomed to in his short time in Cleveland. The one who provides an instant spark of offense off of the bench, which is something the Warriors have been dodging for the first two games of this series. Look out, Dubs nation, the last thing any team facing off against the Cavaliers needs is Mr. Swish catching fire.
After the way Games 1 and 2 ended, let's all send a collective prayer to the folks down in Cleveland, and hope they can make it through these last few games without suffering from cardiac arrest. James' Cavaliers have provided everybody in Cleveland with a feeling they haven't felt for a very long time. The feeling that they can, should be, and will be crowned as champions.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @TRosen12