When the NBA Finals began, all eyes were on current league MVP Stephen Curry and the four-time league MVP LeBron James. But all of a sudden, a bevy of “Delly” chants have emanated from the streets of Cleveland, Ohio. This, of course, is referring to Matthew Dellavedova, an undrafted guard from Australia playing an integral part in the Cavs’ quest for that elusive title.
But just like Cleveland had someone else other than its big names step up, the Golden State Warriors might have latched onto something in their Game 3 loss on Tuesday night. Knicks fans are cringing as they watch their former players thrive in playoff series, but the latest edition to the “players we used to have that are flourishing elsewhere” might include their former All Star, David Lee.
Golden State was a team that was looked upon as prohibitive favorites in this series fresh off its 67-win season, but the Dubs find themselves trailing in this series. They also were nearly run out the Q in Game 3, until Lee made his cameo appearance and sparked a huge run along with Curry.
Lee ended the game with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting, four rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes of action. LeBron had taken a short breather during Lee’s resurgence, but once the Golden State offense was ignited, he checked himself back into the game. When’s the last time we heard that King James had to get back into the game because of David Lee?
Although the Warriors weren’t able to come out of Game 3 victorious, some optimism can stem from what transpired in that fourth quarter. They proved to themselves that they’re still capable of winning this series because of their offensive potency. Curry certainly found the range and got himself going, so you’d figure he’ll be a force to be reckoned in Game 4 and beyond. And lastly, Lee is a viable option off the bench whenever their offense becomes too stagnant.
At the start of the season, Lee was sidelined because of a hamstring injury and ultimately succumbed to the “losing your starting spot due to injury” fate. There were other things that factored into this, like him being a liability defensively and Draymond Green turning into a monster. But with this NBA season coming down to the final days, it looks like Kerr might turn to Lee for a spark going forward.
Before this series, I alluded to that game back on Feb. 26 between these two teams when Cleveland won by 11 points. LeBron put up similar numbers to what he’s averaging now in the Finals when he erupted for 42 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. But I also mentioned that Lee quietly had a pretty good game as well.
In that game, Lee had 19 points, four rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes of action. With that confidence and experience under his belt, he was able to go out there in Game 3 and play fearlessly. No one is suggesting that he’s on this under the radar pursuit of corralling his first ever NBA Finals MVP, but he can have some kind of impact, especially offensively. The Warriors posted a 138.1 offensive rating with him on the court in Game 3, per NBA.com.
In his career, Lee has averaged 14.7 points and 9.7 rebounds, so that warrants some respect thrown in his direction. He can be counted on to make fundamentally sound decisions with the basketball in pick-and-roll situations, and he can also crash the boards and knock down the mid-range shot.
The Warriors are on the ropes, so common sense tells us that we’ll see some changes in tonight’s game. Earlier in the season, Kerr elected to go with Green and Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup. But now the tables have turned, and with these same guys struggling, Kerr might be inclined to rely on the one he’s spurned throughout the year.