Many people like to point to NBA legend LeBron James’ 4-6 record in the NBA Finals, but one of those losses came on a 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers team that lacked any star talent other than James. Another came in 2014-15 when both of LeBron James’ fellow stars on the Cavs, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, were hurt. A surprise player, though, almost helped James still win it all during that 2014-15 season. That player was Matthew Dellavedova.
Dellavedova — who plays on the Cavs again — isn’t quite as valuable to his team as he was back then, but Cleveland has certainly missed his efforts on the floor this season, as he has actually missed every game in 2020-21 due to a severe concussion. Now, after already having a devastating season so far, Dellavedova recently received a scary diagnosis.
Matthew Dellavedova has not played for the Cavs this season
Matthew Dellavedova has never been a big-time scorer but has always been an important role player for the teams he has played on in his career. On the Cavs’ championship team with LeBron James in 2015-16, Dellavedova averaged 7.5 points per game and 4.4 assists. He also shot 41% from 3-point range.
Then, after his three seasons with the Cavaliers, Dellavedova averaged 7.6 points per game and 4.7 assists with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016-17. He, however, did not play as well with the Bucks after that and later got traded back to the Cavs in 2018-19. Dellavedova ultimately averaged 7.3 points per game and 4.2 assists in 36 games with the Cavaliers in 2018-19 but only averaged 3.1 points and 3.2 assists in 2019-20.
This season, though, Dellavedova suffered a concussion in the team’s first preseason game. He has since not played one game this season with a severe concussion, but had appeared to be on his way back to the court. Dellavedova watched practice on Feb. 17, and Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said that Dellavedova told him he felt “really good,” per Cleveland.com.
Then, Dellavedova’s string of bad luck continued.
LeBron James’ former Cavs teammate received a scary diagnosis
On Feb. 20, Matthew Dellavedova told the team doctors about pain he had been having in his lower right abdomen, according to Cleveland.com. Dellavedova then had a CT scan that revealed acute appendicitis, which required him to have surgery that same day.
This is obviously a brutal blow for Dellavedova, who has already had a pretty unlucky season. Cleveland.com reported that recovery can take several more weeks. So, who knows how much longer Dellavedova will be out for the Cavaliers, who are already almost halfway through their season.
Dellavedova seemed to be in good spirits after surgery, though.
“All good, Appendix out,” he tweeted. “My run of good luck is going to be crazy good after this.”
Hopefully, whenever Dellavedova can play again, he is able return to peak form and give the Cavaliers some good minutes. Maybe even similar to the way he played for them in the 2015 NBA Finals with LeBron James.
Matthew Dellavedova almost helped LeBron James and the Cavs win the 2015 NBA Finals
LeBron James and the Cavs were stacked in 2014-15, but Kevin Love suffered an injury in the playoffs. Kyrie Irving then got hurt in the NBA Finals. This left James pretty short-handed. However, he and the Cavs still almost defeated the Golden State Warriors in the series.
After losing the game and Kyrie Irving in Game 1, LeBron James and the Cavs won in Game 2 and Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead. Dellavedova came up big in those games, too. After not scoring and only playing in a little over nine minutes in Game 1 when Irving played, Dellavedova had nine points in Game 2 to help the Cavs get the W. In Game 3, though, he then scored 20 points to help the Cavs take a 2-1 lead.
He also became popular amongst fans for playing his heart out. This came after Dellavedova even had to go to the hospital for dehydration after winning Game 3.
The Cleveland Cavaliers ended up losing the series 4-2, but Dellavedova became a legend in Cleveland and almost gave LeBron James’ legacy a significant boost. Hopefully, he can find some of that magic again once he eventually returns for the Cavs.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference