Delladova gives a playoffs guarantee
THE Milwaukee Bucks are missing Matthew Dellavedova's tough guard play in the Eastern Conference play-off race to the eighth and final place.
Milwaukee has slipped from seventh slot to eighth after its 105-98 loss to the LA Clippers but Dellavedova, still struggling with a right ankle sprain from early February, is adamant the Bucks can make the finals and that he will be ready for play-off action.
Just eight games remain in the regular season, although the Bucks have a five-win buffer over the ninth-placed Detroit Pistons.
"Oh yeah," Dellavedova confidently replied when asked if he would be fit for the play-offs, which start on April 14.
The Victorian, however, does not expect to be on the court during the Bucks' current four-game West Coast trip.
"I just have to keep rehabbing," Dellavedova said before retreating to the corridor outside the locker room and working his ankle on an exercise bike.
If the Bucks remain in eighth it will likely set up a repeat first-round playoff series with the East-leading Toronto Raptors, who eliminated the Bucks last year.
Another early play-off exit would be a disappointment for the Bucks, one of the NBA's longest and most talented teams, and headed by All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo,
"We're not looking back," Dellavedova said. "We want to try and keep moving up.
"The last couple of games we have played better basketball, but we just haven't been consistent enough.
"At our best we can beat anyone, so that's exciting."
Dellavedova's immediate focus is on the Bucks and getting healthy, but he is also excitedly looking ahead to next year's two-game World Cup warm-up series between the Australian team and Team USA, likely headed by LeBron James and Steph Curry.
Dellavedova and his Boomer teammates are over the moon about playing the games in front of 50,000 Aussie fans packed into Melbourne's Etihad Stadium.
"It's awesome for all of the fans in Australia and I know all of the boys have been talking about trying to get an NBA game or something in Australia for a long time," Dellavedova said.
Dellavedova has played in electric NBA Finals in front of 20,000 fans and his St Mary's College squad played in a sparsely populated 70,000-seat NFL arena in Houston in 2010's NCAA Tournament.
Etihad will be different.
"It's going to be awesome in Melbourne just hearing the national anthem with 50,000 plus," Dellavedova said.
"I'm already excited.
"Joe (Ingles) is on fire, Patty (Mills) and Baynesey (Aron Baynes) are playing well, it's great to see Dante (Exum) back on the court and going great and obviously Benny (Simmons) is having a great year."