Cleveland Cavaliers: Lessons learned in loss to the Philadelphia 76ers

Cleveland Cavaliers Matthew Dellavedova (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers Matthew Dellavedova (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers Matthew Dellavedova (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Matthew Dellavedova is the heart of the second unit.

Dellavedova left the Cleveland Cavaliers as a hero in 2016 but his couple seasons away with the Milwaukee Bucks were anything but heroic. Delly failed to find his role and fit for the Bucks and ended up being stuck to the bench for most of this year. Him returning to Cleveland was a shot in the arm for the fan base that grew to love him, but his impact on the floor so far is what has been impressive.

The Cavs continued their stretch of playing their best basketball with Delly on the floor. Dellavedova led the Cavs bench to a ten-point lead in the first quarter, and helped them crawl out of their hole with strong play in the third.

Delly’s hustle has been infectious to the entire second unit. The bench seems to adopt his persona which continues to catch opposing second units off guard.

No player feeds off of Delly’s hustle more than David Nwaba. The pair wrecked havoc on the Sixers’ second unit as the Cavs outscored their opponent by 11 points in the 12.5 minutes the two were on the floor, per

This wasn’t the first time the pair has done that to an opposing second unit either. The Cavs have posted a 119.5 offensive rating, 92.6 defensive rating, and 26.9 net rating in the last three games when both players were on the floor (again, per

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Those impressive numbers together aren’t sustainable in the slightest, but they do a great job of illustrating Delly’s impact on the second unit so far. Dellavedova has done a great job of stabilizing the offense in the halfcourt, while energizing hustle players like Nwaba on the defensive end of the court which has led to easy offense in transition.

The Cavs’ starters face a significant talent gap on most nights with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson out of the lineup. Generally speaking, no amount of hustle will make up for the talent gap between Cleveland and top-tier teams.

However, the talent gap between second units is pretty even throughout the league for the most part. That extra hustle that Dellavedova and the rest of the second unit has brought the last few games has been a major boost for the Cleveland Cavaliers and makes this second unit an advantage against every opponent.

The Cavs were able to hang around in this game against a much more skilled team because the advantage the second unit created. Against a less skilled team, it might have been enough to pull out a win.