CLEVELAND -- Over the course of the previous four seasons, the sound of "MVP" chants ringing throughout Quicken Loans Arena was a common occurrence.
It was just usually reserved for LeBron James.
On Wednesday night, the MVP chant made a return to 'The Q' -- and it did so for an unlikely player. As the Cleveland Cavaliers put the finishing touches on a 113-106 victory over the New York Knicks, the (announced) capacity crowd provided a soundtrack of "M-V-P" chants to Matthew Dellavedova's pair of free throws.
The MVP chants for "Delly" continued into the postgame celebration, with Cavs big man Larry Nance Jr. encouraging the crowd to keep the cheer going.
It goes without saying that Dellavedova isn't actually an MVP candidate. In fact, prior to being reacquired by the Cavs in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks last Friday, the reserve point guard had been averaging just 1.7 points and 2.4 assists in 12 appearances this season.
That's not to say, however, that the celebratory tone of his Cleveland homecoming felt out of place -- especially for Cavs fans who have had little else to celebrate this season. Dellavedova, of course, was a fan favorite during his previous three-year stint in Cleveland and a key component of the Cavs' rotation during their run to the 2015 NBA Finals and 2016 championship.
Without LeBron James in town, Delly's role will be different, although if Wednesday night was any indication, it will be sizable. In 22 minutes of action off the bench, the Australia native scored 15 points, including 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range while adding 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Perhaps most notably, Delly also displayed his signature defense, particularly on an inbounds play with 14 seconds left in which his coverage helped force a Nance steal.
"He was everywhere," Nance said after the game. "It was not even the stuff he did on the court so much. Like, obviously he played really well, shot 3s, hit big free throws, played Delly defense. But the energy the crowd provided when he was on the court making those plays and being involved was a major boost to us."
Added Dellavedova of his Cleveland homecoming: "It's awesome. I really appreciate the support of everybody. I love the fans here and appreciate everything they do. I just try to give back to them just by playing hard and doing what I can."
And as for the MVP chants -- especially the ones started by Nance.
"He's fun to play with," Dellavedova said of his new teammate. "But he needs to stop that."