Since J.R. Smith’s gaffe stretched game one of the NBA Finals into overtime, the Golden State Warriors have outclassed the Cleveland Cavaliers. If Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s update on Andre Iguodala proves true, things could stay that way.
Absent from the Warriors’ bench since sustaining a leg contusion during the third game of the Western Conference finals, the 34-year old finally appears ready to jump in on the action. With the series shifting to Cleveland tonight, Kerr informed reporters that Iguodala has a good chance of joining his teammates on the floor at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Down 2-0 in the series and outscored by 29 points, the Cavaliers need a spark.
With Iguodala on the hardwood, they might not find it.
Andre Iguodala prepping for practice. It'll be the first full team practice he's participated in since knee injury in West Finals. Sounds like a decent chance he'll play in Game 3 if no setbacks. pic.twitter.com/GhWs9OIrDQ
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 5, 2018
As LeBron goes, Cleveland goes. Like he’s done all season, the 33-year old superstar has catalyzed the Cavaliers’ offense, accounting for 36.7 percent of his team’s Finals scoring.
He and Iguodala, though, have history.
In 2015, the University of Arizona alum earned Finals MVP honors, due in part to his defense on James. While James still managed over 35 points per game, Iguodala trimmed 10 points off of his regular season field goal percentage.
The swingman’s defensive effectiveness wasn’t only limited to that series. Last year, he compiled the best plus-minus rating of any Warrior in the Finals.
Furthermore, NBC basketball writer Dan Feldman pointed out that in Cleveland’s three prior Finals matchups against Golden State, the Cavaliers’ net rating plummeted when both Iguodala and James were on the floor.
Cavaliers' net rating has been awesome with LeBron James on and Andre Iguodala off, bad with LeBron on and Iguodala on in the last three NBA Finals pic.twitter.com/9nBcMKqoja
— Dan Feldman Burner Account (@DanFeldmanNBA) May 30, 2018
This year, Kerr has taken a different approach to guarding the 14-time All Star. According to The Undefeated, the Warriors’ coach primarily deployed All-Star Kevin Durant against James during the regular season. He also rotated Iguodala and Draymond Green in relief. The result: 10 made baskets off of 21 attempts.
Despite the numbers, Kerr isn’t phased. Prior to game one, the coach noted his intent to continue defending James by committee.
“We’ve got lots of guys who can take on that job,” Kerr said. “It’s a group effort, anyway, guarding LeBron. K.D., Draymond, Klay [Thompson], Shaun Livingston, they’ll all see time on him.”
Iguodala may no longer be the ringleader, but he’s poised to contribute.