Andre Iguodala gave Golden State Warriors fans a welcome injury update on Saturday, but his vow to be on the floor for Game 7 could still put his team at a disadvantage.
Last year’s NBA Finals MVP has been suffering back stiffness that left him hobbled in the Warriors’ Game 6 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and in the days after the game it seemed as if he would be forced to miss Sunday’s Game 7. Iguodala has been the team’s best perimeter defender, and it was his insertion into the lineup that swung the 2015 NBA Finals to the Warriors. His absence would be a major blow, especially after the Warriors already lost Andrew Bogut for the series.
But Andre Iguodala gave an injury update on Saturday, saying that he would definitely be on the floor.
“I’ll be ready to go full strength tomorrow, whether it’s perfectly fine or whether it’s not,” Iguodala told the San Francisco Chronicle after Saturday’s practice. “It won’t be the reason why I can’t do what I feel like I can do out there.”
Even if he is able to play, the fact that Andre Iguodala is fighting through the injury could be a big disadvantage for the Golden State Warriors. He has often been the primary defender on LeBron James, whose back-to-back 41-point games have brought the Cavaliers from the brink of elimination into a chance to win it all in Game 7.
Iguodala’s injury played a major role in LeBron’s ability to carve through the Warriors’ defenses in the back-to-back wins for the Cavaliers.
There is likely little the Warriors could do to stop LeBron James, who is averaging 30.2 points while hitting 51.4 percent from the floor and 40 percent behind the three-point arc.
“He’s obviously a great player, so he’s going to continue to score,” Warriors forward Harrison Barnes said. “But we’ve got to take away the easy ones: the lobs in transition, the easy dunks and the defensive breakdowns that allow him to get to the rim.”
As Fast Break noted, Iguodala has an important role on offense as well.
“While Iguodala makes his name defensively he’s also a crucial part of what makes Golden State’s small lineup work on the other end. His ability to facilitate the offense allows Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to operate off-ball and generate open looks from long range. Iguodala’s own 40 percent shooting from three-point range during these playoffs has also given the Warriors yet another dangerous floor-spacing deep threat, too.”
Igoudala has been doing everything he can to save himself for Game 7. He skipped the team practice on Saturday and instead got rehab treatments, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.
But there could be more bothering Iguodala than just his balky back. He has suffered all season with chronic tendinitis in the knee, leading him to get platelet-rich plasma injections.
Iguodala isn’t letting the injury affect his mindset, however. The guard said he knows he’s not the only one suffering after a long season and an NBA Finals that’s now stretched to the limit.
“I don’t think anyone is 100 percent,” Iguodala said. “Being an athlete for a long time, you understand that you’re going to have some bumps and bruises. You just don’t want to use it as an excuse. You just tell yourself that you’re fine, go all out and do what it takes to help the team win.”
While Saturday’s injury update means that Andre Iguodala will be on the floor, the injury to the team’s best perimeter defender could still be a major setback for Game 7.
[Photo by Tony Dejak/AP Images]