Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has defended his teammate Matthew Dellavedova from accusations that the Australian is a ‘dirty player’.
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James was discussing the controversial moment during Cleveland’s Game 3 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night, with their 114-111 overtime victory giving them a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Dellavedova got tangled up with Al Horford in the final minute of the second quarter, and as the Australian fell to the floor he went straight into his rival’s leg causing it to buckle slightly under the pressure.
Horford reacted angrily and dropped an elbow on him although it wasn’t with full force, but it was enough to earn him a flagrant-2 would which saw him ejected from the game.
Meanwhile, Dellavedova received a technical for his part in the incident, but it was the reaction of the Hawks players that led to the situation building as they have criticised the Cavs point guard after the same thing occurred in Game 2 which left Kyle Korver with a severe ankle sprain that ruled him out for the rest of the post-season.
“I’m a little bit off about it because this is my guy, this is my teammate and this is a guy that goes out and works his tail off every single night and people are trying to give him a bad rap,” James said, as reported by ESPN.
“He doesn’t deserve it and I don’t like it.”
Aside from the Horford and Korver incidents, Dellavedova was also criticised for his part in Taj Gibson’s ejection in the Eastern Conference semi-finals clash with the Chicago Bulls.
The Australian star locked up Gibson’s leg as he was looking to run back down the court, but instead he kicked out to get his leg loose and was ejected from that game.
Intention to hurt is in all probability not there from Dellavedova’s part, but there is certainly an argument to be made that he is reckless and his habits need to change before it causes another injury.
James wasn’t the only teammate to stick up for the reserve guard, with both Iman Shumpert and James Jones agreeing with his assessment and defending Dellavedova from further criticism.