Australia's Matthew Dellavedova turns an MVP into Curry puff in Game 2 of NBA Finals

Golden State Warriors MVP Stephen Curry looks to pass under pressure from Matthew Dellavedova of the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 2 in the best on 7 series 2015 NBA Finals on Sunday (June 7) in Oakland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP
Golden State Warriors MVP Stephen Curry looks to pass under pressure from Matthew Dellavedova of the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 2 in the best on 7 series 2015 NBA Finals on Sunday (June 7) in Oakland, California. -- PHOTO: AFP

Move over Mad Max. Here comes Mad Matt.

American sports pundits obviously angered Cleveland Cavaliers Australian point guard Matthew Dellavedova prior to the start of the second game of the NBA Finals over in Oakland, California.

After all-star Kyrie Irving went down with a season-ending broken knee in the overtime of Game One last week - joining all-star Kevin Love, who was knocked out by injury earlier in the play-offs - much of the media wrote off the Cavs chances of winning a game, let alone the NBA championship series.

In fact, some Golden States Warriors fans brought their brooms to the Oracle Arena figuring they were about to witness the completion of the first half of a "four game sweep".

Instead, they saw the Cav's Dellavedova, or Delly as he's already know for short in Cleveland, turn into "Mad Matt". Stepping in for Irving, he virtually shut down Warrior's MVP Stephen Curry with his no-holds-barred physical defence.

That gave Cleveland a hard-fought 95-93 victory in overtime on a court, and home court advantage as the series moves to Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, know as the Q for short, starting Wednesday morning at 9 am Singapore time.

Delly was in the Warrior star's face constantly, turning a player know for his deadly shot-making skills into a veritable Curry puff. That resulted in a number of dubious distinctions, instead: the 3rd worst field goal shooting percentage - .217 - in an NBA Finals game by a reigning MVP, and 13 missed 3-pointers, the most ever missed in a single NBA Finals game.

When guarded by Delly, Curry had zero for eight field goal attempts, zero for five 3-point attempts, and turned the ball over four times.

ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst, who covered the Cavalier's superstar LeBron James as a sports writer for Cleveland's Plain Dealer newspaper since he was drafted into the NBA out of an Akron high school, put it best after the game.

"Steph Curry was uncomfortable dealing with Dellavedova. The Cavs were extremely physical, Dellavedova especially," he said. "You could tell Steph Curry was thrown off his game by Dellavedova's play. He had bad body language. He was taking bad shots. And this is how the Cavs are going to play him from now on."

Delly was born and raised in Maryborough, Victoria, and first put his hand on a basketball at the age of four. At Maryborough Regional College, he played junior basketball, then in 2007, he attended the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, where he spent three years playing in the South East Australian Basketball League, before heading to California to start playing for Saint Mary's College, not far from the Warriors hometown.

His mother, Leanne, was at courtside during Game 2 to watch her son play, and told ESPN that because it was the Queen's birthday in Australia the entire nation was tuned in to watch her son's performance which she said nearly brought her to tears.

The Cavs King James himself was full of praise Delly's performance. When cornered by a reporter right after he stomped and celebrated the overtime win with what sounded like a loud growl of glee, he said: "He came out, he defended. He rebounded. He made timely shots. He was huge for us."

Then James noted that Dellavedova had done the same thing for Cleveland when he played for the hobbled Irving in a sweep of the Atlanta Hawks to win the NBA Eastern Conference championship.

"We knew we could count on him cause we've been in this position before," James said. "And he gave us everything and more tonight."

By contrast, Delly himself was humble when asked about his ability to stop Steph, and help James, whose triple double - 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists - was his fifth in an NBA Finals game, putting him second only to Magic Johnson's 8.

""I mean, I don't think anyone can really stop Steph Curry," Dellavedova said. "He can get his shot off pretty much whenever he wants and can get hot in a second. So we'll watch the tape and see what we need to do for Game 3."

No doubt, all eyes in Cleveland will be on an Australian in that game, and the rest of the finals, not just that guy from neighbouring Akron.

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