Milwaukee Bucks gritty point guard, Matthew Dellavedova, is inching closer to a much-anticipated return to the Bucks bench.
The Aussie point guard has been sidelined since injuring his ankle on February 4th in Brooklyn against the Nets. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Bucks, who had already had lost second-year stud, Malcolm Brogdon on February 1st.
The injury to Dellavedova has hurt the Bucks in certain areas that do not show up in the box score, even if he’s averaging some career-low numbers this year. Dellavedova has been to the NBA Finals twice and willingly sacrifices his body for the greater good of the Bucks.
Milwaukee has dropped from the top four in the Eastern Conference to seventh since losing Delly, including the last four games in a row. The combination of losing Brogdon and Dellavedova has left the Bucks with only one point guard — Eric Bledsoe — for the past month.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton have slotted into that role often, with Antetokounmpo admitting after a recent loss to Detroit that spending time at the point guard spot has severely affected his mentality and aggressiveness.
“Definitely, I mean, they’re a big part of our team,” Bucks star Kris Middleton said when asked about missing Dellavedova and Brogdon.
“Those guys, they’re a huge part of what we do and how we play.”
Spacing the floor has been difficult since the loss of Dellavedova. Delly is arguably the Bucks’ best screener, without doubt, he is the best of the backcourt. Solid screens allow for more spacing and let the offense flow, rather than stagnate.
Ball movement also has become an issue, Milwaukee has consistently used isolation attempts either to attack mismatches or create offense this season. It hasn’t always worked, especially with Bucks all-star and leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo getting swarmed by opposing defenses more and more since the All-Star break, but having Delly there to create space be open for a quick catch and shoot would make life a lot easier for Giannis right now.
While he might be prone to throwing one too many lobs to Thon Maker, Matthew Dellavedova has an uncanny knack to find his teammates a quality shot when the pressure is on.
Lastly, the best offense is always a quality defence and the Bucks are at their best when they are capitalising on blocked shots and steals in transition. Dellavedova’s “terrier-like” defence which he channels players into making poor passes, usually picked off by Antetokounmpo or Middleton or towards interior defenders like John Henson and Thon Maker who swat opponents shots back the other direction.
“This is a big test for us right now, the games we’re going to play,” Antetokounmpo said. “I know that I trust my team and we’re not going to give away our season. We’re going to be able to fight through these games and finish strong.”
“When I hurt my ankle I knew it was going to be a little bit longer than just one game. It’s frustrating, but that’s sport.” Dellavedova told reporters this week.
With Dellavedova getting closer to a return by the day, it will certainly help bolster the depth of an already ailing bench squad.