- Matthew Dellavedova could make a return more than a year after his regular-season NBA game
- Dellavedova was out because of a concussion and appendectomy
- Cavaliers’ veteran guard could make season debut Thursday against the 76ers
Matthew Dellavedova’s long wait to play again could be finally over as it has been more than a year since he played his last regular-season NBA game.
The Cavaliers’ popular veteran guard could make his season debut Thursday night (Friday morning 4:30 AM IST) after being out with a concussion and appendectomy.
Dellavedova practised on Wednesday, said Coach J.B. Bickerstaff and added, as long as he gets final medical clearance, the 30-year-old will play against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Coach Bickerstaff said, “My expectation is hopeful that there will be a Delly sighting tomorrow”.
Dellavedova, who along with Kevin Love is the only remaining player on the roster from Cleveland’s 2016 NBA title team, has not played a single game since suffering a head injury in the team’s exhibition opener in December.
Dellavedova had suffered previous concussions, that is the reason why his recovery took longer as he had to pass the protocols of the league. He had a made major progress toward a return in February this year, however, was sidelined again after having his appendix removed.
The Cavs have missed Dellavedova’s experience, toughness and leadership which was visible in the club’s previous matches.
Giard Collin Sexton said, “Definitely seems like forever to think about how long he’s been out and how many games he missed.
“But definitely excited to see him back out there in practice and going through the plays, it’s amazing to see his full recovery. It’s good. I’m definitely glad to have him back.
“I said, ‘Don’t go out there and give out six fouls in the first three minutes.’ He just laughed about it.”
It was on the 10th March 2020 when Dellavedova played in a regular-season, the final one before the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the league’s season and ended Cleveland’s.
Cleveland Cavaliers have been ravaged by injuries throughout the season and not having Dellavedova has hurt the club’s depth and also deprived the team of having a guard on the floor to help mentor Sexton and Darius Garland.
Sexton said, “Delly is a guy that is going to do whatever the team needs.
“If that’s to go lock someone up or play 94 (feet), he’s going to do it. Delly is coming in and being that vocal leader and that vet that we need.
“With Delly coming back we know what to expect pretty much.”
Dellavedova has served as something of a player and a coach as well while he has been out of the squad, and Sexton said his input has been invaluable.
Sexton said, “When he’s out there, we’re able to see what he sees as well.
“But it’s different when he’s on the sidelines. He tells you what he sees from the bench. So, when he goes in the game, he will be like, ‘Alright I see this play, so run this.’
“Or he will make sure he has the plays in his back pocket.
“Delly is one of the smartest people I know when it comes to basketball, his IQ is really high up there.”