At the rate their players are suffering injuries, the Cleveland Cavaliers might be accepting the NBA championship trophy in their hospital beds.
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Already hit by two stars lost to play-off injuries, the Cavaliers had more health concerns after their 96-91 victory over Golden State to give them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven title series.
Australian guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 20 points, including a pivotal 3-point play on a stumbling bank shot while being fouled late in the fourth quarter. But he needed an IV after the game and was taken to the Cleveland Clinic, unable to talk with reporters about his night, which also included five rebounds and four assists.
“He plays as hard as he can every day. He’s not afraid. He plays courageously. And everybody on this team has his back,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “He’s going to give you everything he has. What’s not to love about the guy?”
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And guard Iman Shumpert suffered a left shoulder injury in the first quarter when he ran into a screen set by Golden State’s Draymond Green.
The injury, in the same area as one that benched him for six weeks during the season, sent Shumpert to the locker room but he returned in the second quarter and played 32 minutes in all.
“Guys set screens and you usually go shoulder to shoulder a lot, and that time it hurt a little bit more than usual,” he said. “I was able to play so I’m happy about that.”
The Cavs are already without star forward Kevin Love, who suffered a separated left shoulder in the first playoff round, and star guard Kyrie Irving, who suffered a fractured left kneecap in the finals opener.
“We just can’t afford any more injuries. We just can’t. We’re already depleted,” Cavaliers star LeBron James said, ahead of Game 4 on Thursday night (start: 05:00, UAE time).
“When Shumpert came back on the floor with his shoulder wrapped and knowing he wasn’t 100 per cent and still competing, it means everything to the team. It means everything to me.”
James is averaging a record 41 points, 12 rebounds and 8.3 steals a game in the finals. Even he appeared to be cramping at the end of the contest, but he was more concerned with praising Dellavedova.
“He’s going to give everything he’s got. He’s going to throw his body all over the place,” James said. “It was great to have someone like that willing to sacrifice everything for the team.”
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