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Matthew Dellavedova And The Search For The Perfect Mistake

Matthew Dellavedova had his ups and downs in Cleveland's Game 2 victory. We parse those downs—namely, his six turnovers—for some hidden signs of greatness.

by Corbin Smith
Jun 8 2015, 6:04pm

Photo by Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There he is. Australia's scruffy man, piled into a suit, sitting in front of a gaggle of reporters, ready to deflect questions abut his defense on Stephen Curry in the NBA Finals in relief of Kyrie Irving. Someone had to go out there and make something happen. So Dellavedova went out there, with nothing but his body and his mind, and he did something. And his Cavaliers won Game 2, so...

But was that something good? It is impossible to know in totality. Dellavedova broke the idea of "Good performance" and "Bad performance" into a million pieces on Sunday night. On one hand, he had a plus-15 net rating, and roamed around the court agitating Stephen Curry into one of the worst performances of his entire career. He grabbed an offensive board and sank two free throws to win the game for the Cavs— smooth and gritty all at once, like Basketball Toothpaste.

On the other hand, maybe Curry's lousy night was luck, Steph was a victim of the fates which dog even the greatest athletes, and he will tear Delly's fingernails out soon. And in 42 minutes of play, Dellavedova netted all of nine points on 3-of-10 Shooting, had just one assist and six heinous live ball turnovers. This is the kind of stuff that leaves a nasty, overpowering taste in your mouth, like Basketball Toothpaste.

Read More: Bogut Versus Delly, And The Origin Stories Of The Australians In The NBA

I have taken some time to consider these turnovers, some of which shocked me to my core as they happened, to see if I can find some continuity between the good things that Dellavedova did and the horrorshow mistakes that made one think maybe he was better off doing something besides playing professional basketball.

TURNOVER ONE: 11:14 REMAINING IN THE FIRST

WHAT HAPPENED? Matthew brings the ball up, great job Matthew. Klay Thompson meets him above the three-point line. Tristan Thompson and LeBron both get into pick-setting position. Matthew takes Tristan's pick, to the right, Thompson rolls and Dellavedova drives to the basket, where he is met by Marreese Speights, who is nominally playing center. Dellavedova throws up a lob pass to Thompson: this is a fairly common action in the Cavs offense, but Thompson gets sealed out of the play by Speights, and the pass just drifts aimlessly into the hands of Harrison Barnes, who runs a fast break to the other end of the court and gets fouled by James Jones.

DOES THIS TURNOVER CONTAIN THE TRACES OF GREATNESS? Dellavedova COULD have tried his luck against Marreese Speights, not a shotblocker of note, but he knew that Tristan has always wanted to raise up over Speights and bang one down cold. (Everyone alive kind of wants to do this.) It didn't work out this time, but that kind of awareness of another dude's needs and desires is part of what makes a player a great at taking away stuff on the defensive end. So, sure.

TURNOVER TWO: 10:56 REMAINING IN THE THIRD

WHAT HAPPENED? Matthew dribbles baseline and gets doubled by Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He falls down and Klay yanks the ball out of his outstretched arms. A fast break starts.

DOES THIS TURNOVER CONTAIN THE TRACES OF GREATNESS? Defense is fueled by spite, and getting bear-pawed by a dude named after an attribute of dirt is the ultimate spite candy.

TURNOVER THREE: 8:56 REMAINING IN THE THIRD QUARTER

WHAT HAPPENED? Matthew runs a high pick and roll with Mozgov. When Bogut meets him in the paint, he tries to send a pocket pass to Mozzy, which rolls off the big man's shin and into the hands of Draymond Green, who triggers a break.

DOES THIS TURNOVER CONTAIN THE TRACES OF GREATNESS? No. It is just a horrible pass.

TURNOVER FOUR: 11 SECONDS REMAINING IN THE THIRD

WHAT HAPPENED? Matthew is trying to run a high pick and roll with Tristan Thompson, but Shaun Livingston is staying with him. He manages a dribble move, Livingston gets shed on Thompson, Tristan rolls, Matthew drives toward the basket and is met by Marreese Speights. He rises to try a jump shot, but, at the last nanosecond, spots Thompson rolling and switches to a risky and extremely awful jump pass, which bounces off Draymond Green's hands. A fast break starts...

DOES THIS TURNOVER CONTAIN THE TRACES OF GREATNESS? ...and ends with Speights missing the widest-open dunk you've seen in your life. Probable that Dellavedova made him do this through use of the same rage-fueled majicks that were certainly at work on Steph Curry all night.

TURNOVER FIVE: 10 SECONDS REMAINING IN THE THIRD QUARTER

WHAT HAPPENED? The action starts with James/Dellavedova pick and roll, which actually worked a few times in Game 2. The defense (understandably) shades towards LeBron, who passes to Dellavedova, who drives into the paint and meets Draymond Green, playing center in the Warriors' mega-small line up. At which point Matthew stands for a second, then seems like he is trying to draw a foul or pass, maybe, it is very befuddling. Then he loses the ball.

DOES THIS TURNOVER CONTAIN THE TRACES OF GREATNESS? No it does not.

TURNOVER SIX: 1:34 REMAINING IN THE FOURTH

WHAT HAPPENED? Steph Curry is dribbling the ball up the court, and Matthew mets him above the three point line. He reaches in, Steph adjusts his dribble to avoid the poke, the ball hits his foot and drifts into the backcourt, Matthew runs after it, grabs it as its is falling out of bounds and wildly tosses it behind his head, right to Draymond Green.

DOES THIS TURNOVER CONTAIN THE TRACES OF GREATNESS? Yes! It was the direct result of a good defensive play! It does look kind of silly in freeze-frame, admittedly.

No person is one thing, but the good and bad of our lives are more intimately connected then we can imagine. We should thank Matthew Dellavedova for reminding us of this by making mistakes.