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Opposing defenses are daring Matthew Dellavedova to create

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Opposing defenses are starting to dare Matthew Dellavedova to make plays.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Dellavedova has made his money as a defensive player. His identity is simple: he defends opponents aggressively and works tirelessly to defend shots. On offense, his best skill is shooting, specifically off the ball in catch-and-shoot situations. Any successful creating that he does - most notably with Tristan Thomspon in the pick and roll - is a bonus.

Opposing defenses don't typically pay Dellavedova too much attention, which makes sense when you remember that three of Dellavedova's teammates are LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. For the most part, teams defend Delly straight up and put their attention elsewhere.

In the past few games, teams have started to dare Dellavedova to create. As the playoffs come closer, teams are starting to make adjustments. For Delly, that means teams are daring him to create for himself off the dribble as opposed to working off the ball.

Take a look at how the Hawks defended him last night. As Dellavedova brings up the ball, Dennis Schroeder immediately sags off, daring Dellavedova to shoot a pull-up three or attempt to drive the lane with Al Hoford waiting to pounce.

On this specific play, Dellavedova scores on a layup after beating Horford to the rim. But the Hawks are ok with that shot attempt - it's better for Delly create than to have Irving attack them off the bounce with Delly and Channing Frye spotting up on the wing.

Teams are also sagging off Dellavedova when he sets up in the pick and roll. Here, against the Nets, he runs and pick and roll with Frye and the Nets basically dare him to shoot. If/when he runs a PNR with Thomspon, they might start daring him to shoot/create even more. That's not ideal.

Complicating this even more is that Dellavedova isn't shooting as well of late as teams have started to defend him differently. Aside from October (where he played a whopping three games and Irving was out with an injury), March was Delly's worst month shooting from deep and second worst from the field. From deep, his three-point percentage dropped from 42.3 percent in February on 3.3 attempts per game to 36.5 percent on 3.3 attempts per game in March. That's a drop from borderline elite to average.

The good news is that there is an easy fix here. When the playoffs come for real, and rotations get trimmed, playing Dellavedova more at shooting guard and cutting his team initating the offense should lessen this problem. For the year, hasn't played a ton off-ball - mostly due to Irving being hurt and Mo Williams being hurt/not being a rotation player - he's played as a lead guard.

The tweak to make is to have him play with at least one of Irving and James at all times and let them initiate the offense. In this scenario, he can go back to being a deadly off-ball shooter - he's shooting 46.7 percent on catch-and-shoot threes for the year and at a 43.8 percent clip in March - and still provide the defense the Cavs need from him.

This, though, is an example of what's to come. This the first of many adjustments the Cavs are going to see thrown at them when the playoffs start.