When Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova sunk the second of two free-throw attempts with 51 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors, he became just the third undrafted free agent in the last 30 years to score 20 or more points in an NBA Finals game, per ESPN Stats & Info.
The other undrafted players to accomplish the feat were Gary Neal for the San Antonio Spurs in 2013 and John Starks—who reached 20 points four times in the series—for the New York Knicks in 1994. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, both of the previous players' teams went on to lose the Finals.
Dellavedova's playing time saw a major boost following the injury to Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving in Game 1, moving the second-year Aussie into the starting lineup for Game 2. Although his first start resulted in just nine points over 42 minutes, Dellavedova played a crucial role in limiting Warriors guard Stephen Curry to 19 points.
Game 3 brought more of the same upon Curry for the first three quarters, but the wear and tear of guarding the MVP likely got to Dellavedova in the fourth, when Curry went off for 16 of his 27 points in the contest. However, the St. Mary's product got some revenge of his own, putting home a key bucket and free throw on a three-point play to expand the lead from one to four with two minutes, 27 seconds remaining.
Although the presence of teammate LeBron James makes it unrealistic, the youngster's play has even garnered some attention in the discussion for Finals MVP. The biggest reason for the discussion is his extraordinary effort, as evidenced by his diving on the floor and the extreme dehydration he suffered following Game 3.
Though things still remain up in the air heading into Game 4 on Thursday, Dellavedova has certainly made his mark early in the series and will likely play a pivotal role as the Cavaliers look to claim their first NBA championship in franchise history.