Just when it seemed the Cavaliers would gain a slight reprieve with the Finals moving to their home turf, Andre Iguodala pops up. Golden State’s 34-year-old swingman is questionable for Wednesday’s Game 3 after missing the past six games of the playoffs with a lateral contusion on his left leg.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported that Iguodala went through a full personal workout and sprinted for the first time since his injury two weeks ago. Should Iguodala return, it would be at the worst time for Cleveland, which is already down 2-0. For Golden State, Iguodala’s recovery would just mean a quicker Finals triumph. Probably.
Iguodala’s importance on a team packed with All-Stars is evidenced by his 2015 Finals MVP award and his inclusion in a group nicknamed the Hamptons Five. If Steph, Klay, Draymond, Durant, and Iggy really were five regular dudes hanging out in the Hamptons, Iguodala would be the one to book the Airbnb, send out the Venmo requests, stock the fridge with beer, and take KD’s phone away at 2 a.m. He’s happy to take on myriad responsibilities: the LeBron James defender, the skillful passer, and the playmaker who stepped up with Curry out. Off the court, too:
“[Iguodala] came into the huddle the other night in Game 1,” Steve Kerr said on Sunday, “with a great suggestion that we went with, and it worked. Andre knows the game as well as anybody.” (I really hope the suggestion was starting JaVale McGee in the second half.)
Up until Iguodala’s injury, Kerr had started the veteran in 12 of the Warriors’ 13 playoff games. Kerr had gone with Kevon Looney since, and in Game 2 started McGee to slow the towering Cleveland frontcourt that destroyed the Warriors on the boards in the opener. If Iguodala’s bone bruise isn’t an issue for his conditioning or movement, then he will likely be back in the starting lineup for Game 3. Cleveland would have to get creative against a small lineup featuring Iguodala and four other ball handlers, and by relieving Durant from LeBron-guarding duty, Iggy can free KD to invest his energy elsewhere. (What I’m saying is take the over on Durant’s points.) Iguodala’s presence also stifles the shooting advantage Cleveland was looking forward to. This postseason, the Cavs are shooting 31 percent from 3 on the road, as compared to 37 percent in Quicken Loans. That’s a Lonzo Ball–to–Bradley Beal–sized jump. Iguodala’s perimeter defense would make that vast degree of improvement much less likely. Also much less likely with a healthy Iguodala on the floor: Cleveland’s chance to send the series back to Oakland.