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Andre Iguodala’s Unselfishness Gets Repaid In A Title

Andre Iguodala hits a big three and celebrates as the Warriors win the NBA title. (photo courtesy of www.cheatsheet.com)

Andre Iguodala hits a big three and celebrates as the Warriors win the NBA title. (photo courtesy of http://www.cheatsheet.com)

The Golden State Warriors are now NBA champions after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. The feeling of winning the NBA title when many did not expect them to do so beginning the season has to be something that overcame all of them at that moment in time. All the hugs and joy that was seen between players, coaches and families on the Warriors team were priceless things to watch. Going into this series, the battle of Golden State versus Cleveland was viewed as the NBA’s best team versus the NBA’s best player in LeBron James. Cleveland got a huge series out of James, but the strength of the Golden State Warriors team proved to be too much for him to overcome. The strength in numbers was enough to overthrow the King. But more than that, there was one thing that was shown all season with this team. If you have watched the Warriors all season long, they have been an unselfish team that is all in together. In fact, you could say that they all take turns making plays to win games. Obviously players like Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson receive most of the credit, but there were other players and their sacrifices that helped make this team who they are. One player that sacrificed a lot this season is David Lee. He was the starter ever since he came to Golden State, but when he hurt his hamstring before the season, it was Draymond Green who got the call to start. And with him in the lineup, the team seemed to flow better. Green retained the starting nod while Lee retreated to a bench role for the betterment of the team. And in the end, his acceptance of his role helped bring home a title. But there was one man that made a sacrifice even bigger than Lee did. His name was Andre Iguodala.

When Andre Iguodala came to Golden State, he said he was coming there to play for then coach Mark Jackson. Iggy was a starter ever since he came into the league as a rookie back in 2004 with the Philadelphia 76ers. In his first year with the Golden State Warriors, he was thought to add a little more defense and versatility to that team. But instead of adding that, he took a little more than he added. Emerging young player Harrison Barnes, who had played well the previous season, was not the same player he was coming in off the bench. He never played to the level he did the previous season and that ended up being to the detriment of the team. The Warriors would go on not meet expectations as they lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. And as far as Iggy, he would average his lowest points per game since his rookie year (9.3 points per game) while dealing with a hamstring injury that hampered him throughout the season. Going into this season, the Warriors had a new coach. After a managerial disagreement, Mark Jackson was fired and former NBA player and TNT announcer Steve Kerr took over. It was expected by many that Kerr would keep the same lineup and add in their free agent signings, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa. But Kerr had something else in mind and it involved Andre Iguodala.

One of Kerr’s first visits when he signed on as coach of the Golden State Warriors was to Andre Iguodala. He knew the veteran was a voice on the team that many would listen to because of his tenure in the league. But his reason for meeting with him was not only to get on the same page as him, but to ask him to sacrifice. When taking over the coaching job, Kerr noticed the dip in Harrison Barnes’ play as a result of going to the bench. And in an effort to maximize what he had in Barnes, he asked Iggy to come in off the bench for the first time in his career. From what is reported, it was not an easy decision for Iguodala. He was known as an NBA starter for all of his career. In his mind he had to be wondering what Kerr was thinking when he asked him to be a bench player. But reluctantly, Iggy agreed to the switch and bought what Kerr was selling to him. And during the season, it seemed like Barnes played much better. He only averaged .6 points better than the previous year, but Barnes shot 48.2% for the season (up from 39.9%) and he also posted a career-high in rebounds. And to his credit, Iggy gave the Warriors a boost off the bench all season long, averaging 8 points per game off one of the best benches in the NBA. The sacrifice of Iggy along with the great play of the Warriors helped lead Golden State to 67 wins and the number once seed in the NBA’s Western Conference. And throughout the playoffs, Iggy made timely plays and was one of the glue guys off the Warriors bench along with Shaun Livingston. But his biggest payback for his sacrifice would come in the postseason.

The Golden State Warriors were looking at a 2-1 deficit going into Cleveland for Game 4. Many wondered what adjustments that Kerr would make and how he would combat what LeBron James was putting together for the Cavaliers. Up until gametime, no one really knew what he would do. But then he shocked the world and went with Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup to replace center Andre Bogut. The shocker wasn’t so much that Iggy was in the starting lineup. After all, he was the most consistent player in the series up to that point. When he jumped into the starting lineup, it was his first time being in the starting lineup all season. And with Iggy and Draymond Green starting up front, it was assumed the Cavs would eat them up on the glass. Well, that move surely did so for the first couple of minutes of Game 4. Tristian Thompson was tearing them up on the glass to start the game. But after the Warriors settled in, the small lineup with Iggy started to work its magic. And three straight games later, the magic they found in the small lineup led them to being NBA champions. One player that made an immeasurable impact on this series from the onset is Andre Iguodala. He made LeBron work for every point he got when he guarded him, had some nice assists and hit the open shot when given to him. And because of that strong play, he won the NBA Finals MVP. Some say that Steph Curry should have won the MVP, but Iggy was consistent the entire series and when he was inserted in the starting lineup, he gave the team 20.3 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game. And even more than that, he helped make the Warriors defense better along with create big mismatch problems for the Cavaliers. Curry may be the Warriors best player, but Iggy was definitely the most important player and proved to be the most valuable too despite the missed free throws.

Andre Iguodala made a sacrifice that not many would have honestly said they would have made. He willingly went to the bench in an effort to do what the coach said would make the team better. And as a result of his sacrifice and unselfishness, he played a huge part in bringing a championship to Golden State. Not only did he help win the title, but he was a key cog in the turnaround of the entire series. No matter what anyone says about Iguodala after tonight, it won’t matter. Iggy can now be known as an NBA champion and one that was selfless enough to see the big picture for the Warriors. And for that he should be commended.

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The Fourth Quarter Of Game Three Was Exactly What The Golden State Warriors Needed

LeBron James takes David Lee to the basket (Photo courtesy of Tony Dejak)

LeBron James takes David Lee to the basket (Photo courtesy of Tony Dejak)

The Golden State Warriors were the team riding momentum heading into Game 2 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were up 1-0 and playing at home. They were trending in the right direction. And to add to everything, the Cavaliers lost Kyrie Irving to a season and series-ending knee injury. They had the Cavs right where they wanted them. But a certain number 23 and his crew of merry men decided that they would not lose Game 2. LeBron James took over in Golden State in Game 2 and he got his teammates involved, leading to their clutch win in Oakland. The pressure had then switched from Cleveland to Golden State and it was going to be interesting to see if the Warriors could respond like they did against the Memphis Grizzlies. Well, the Warriors not only did not respond, but they actually did not show up for most of the game in Game 3 in Cleveland. The Warriors looked to be lacking energy for most of the game and the Cavaliers were making everything happen as they entered the fourth quarter with a 17 point lead. But in the fourth, it looked like the Warriors found some rhythm and made things interesting. While the Warriors were playing with confidence in the last quarter while trying to make a mad dash back in the game, the Cavs were grasping for air while trying to close out the game. The Cavs eventually did enough as a team to close out the game and win it 96-91, but it was not easy at the end. And because of that big finish by the Warriors, there are a few of glimmers of hope the Warriors can take from this one.

David Lee was a forgotten man on the Warriors bench. He has been sitting over there collecting dust on the Warriors bench for most of the playoffs and the entire NBA Finals series. And in Game 3, it seemed that Lee was going to sit the entire game as well. But with Draymond Green struggling, Bogut disappearing and Festus Ezeli struggling as well, Warriors coach Steve Kerr finally went to Lee and the results were excellent. The biggest thing that was hurting the Warriors all game long was their lack of weapons at the post position. The aforementioned Green has been struggling to shoot the basketball all series long and Bogut and Ezeli are not really offensive weapons. Lee, although he can struggle on defense, can make it happen on the offensive end. And because of his presence, he puts pressure on the Cavaliers big men. He almost scored as many points tonight as he scored in the entire playoffs with his finishes around the rim and his active body. Going into the next game, the Warriors bring in Lee ahead of Festus Ezeli off the bench. In fact, if Draymond Green is struggling again as the starting power forward, then Kerr should bring him in for Green as well. Of course the defense will suffer, but the Warriors need offense and the Cavs have been mucking it up for them for the last two games.

But Lee is not the only weapon that could make it happen off their bench. Leandro Barbosa was a forgotten man in Game 2. He played less than ten minutes and did not have the effect that was desired. In Game 3, Kerr again went to his bench and brought in Barbosa to play alongside Curry and Thompson. The result was a pickup of tempo. We all remember the Brazilian Blur and the things he did in Phoenix over his career. Well, he isn’t quite as fast as he was back then, but he still does push the tempo and his stroke is pretty good from three-point range. If Harrison Barnes is going to disappear again like he did in Game 3, then Kerr has the option of bringing in Barbosa alongside Iguodala off his bench or leaving him in with Curry and Thompson to put more pressure on the offense. And with the added shooting and ball-handling, Barbosa can free up Curry to run off screens and can also allow more pressure to be taken off Curry to be the ballhandler and scorer for the Warriors.

Another positive sign from the Warriors in the fourth quarter was the play of Steph Curry. For most of the game, Curry was getting outplayed by Matthew Dellavedova, a backup point guard that has had to step in for an injured Kyrie Irving. Delly, as they call him in Cleveland, was making it happen and had outscored Curry for most of the game. But when the fourth quarter came around and the Warriors made their changes, it seemed like Curry played with the looseness that he played with in Game 1. The results were Steph hitting those high-difficulty shots that he was hitting all season long. And with each shot he hit, you could see his confidence growing more and more. Steph ended the game with 27 points and 7 three-pointers made. Sure, the Warriors still lost the game, but Curry gained back some of that magic he had been missing since the first game of the series. Going into Game 4, look for Steph to play with the same bounce that he played with previously enroute to the MVP. And if he is hitting these types of shots with regularity, then he will have the Cavaliers on their heels and the Warriors will have taken back momentum. And grabbing back all the momentum they lost in two games in Game 4 would be huge for them. Green has not played well, but if they can get Curry going then the team could pickup behind his momentum. Like it or not, he is the MVP and the team is following his lead. Klay Thompson has been playing well, but they get nowhere without Curry being the electrifying player that he can be at all times. In fact, there should be no way Dellavedova could guard him. But the combination of hard-nosed defense and passive offense from Curry has allowed Delly to grow in confidence.

The Warriors may be down, but they are definitely not out of this series. After all, they are down only one game this series. Momentum can change addresses with lightning speed, just like it did from Game 1 to Game 2 of this series. The main thing the Warriors have to do is take what they did in the fourth quarter and duplicate it over four quarters. Pushing tempo will definitely be the key to all that happening. We shall see if they do so or if they continue to let the Cavaliers muck up the basketball game.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

Andre Iguodala Was The Unsung Hero In The Golden State Warriors’ Game One Win

Andre Iguodala flies in for an impressive dunk versus the Cavaliers in the first quarter of Game 1(photo courtesy of www.abc7news.com)

Andre Iguodala flies in for an impressive dunk versus the Cavaliers in the first quarter of Game 1(photo courtesy of http://www.abc7news.com)

The Golden State Warriors were a really deep team this year. In fact, you could say they had strength in numbers the entire year. But the thing about this team is that it never would have happened if it weren’t for the willingness of one particular vet on the Warriors team. When Steve Kerr was hired as head coach, he went and visited the veterans about some things that he wanted to change. And in those visits he made one huge stop to see Andre Iguodala. The veteran forward out of Arizona had been a starter his entire career in the NBA. But what Kerr was going to propose to him was going to test whether he wanted to be a part of something or get what he wanted. Kerr went to Iguodala and asked him about accepting a role off the bench. Kerr envisioned Iggy being his utility knife off the bench while freeing up Harrison Barnes as the starter. He was not the most receptive to the thought at first. In fact, he reluctantly accepted the proposition from his new head coach and moved to the bench for the team. And as a result, he helped the Warriors form a deep and bench with veterans Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, David Lee and Shaun Livingston and a young big man in Festus Ezeli. And with Iguodala leading the way, all accepted their roles off the bench. The results were the Warriors wearing out teams all season long on their way to the top seed in the NBA’s Western Conference. But as the season has gone on, Iguodala has shown to be the most important member of the depth Golden State has. And in Game One of the NBA Finals, he showed his worth even more for the Warriors.

Coming into this series, Iguodala was one of the many that were going to be guarding LeBron James. Even though he is shorter than LeBron (standing at only 6’6”), he was considered one of the best matchups the Warriors had against LeBron. After all, they could not take Draymond Green off Tristian Thompson with how much damage he was doing in the paint. Harrison Barnes got his shot at LeBron first and it seemed like LeBron was catching a rhythm. And even though the shots were contested, it looked like Harrison was just overmatched the entire time he was up against LeBron. Steve Kerr and his coaches must have been watching and saw that as well. And when they did, they sent in Iggy to defend LeBron James. The result was LeBron only getting 7 points on Iggy while shooting 13 shots. Of course LeBron exploded tonight, but it was not on the watch of Iggy, who has been known as a very good defender his entire career. LeBron got the best of Iggy a few times, especially when he was in the post, but there was a number of times when LeBron had to contort himself in all types of angles to make it happen. Of all the defenders, Iggy was by far the most effective and could have potentially done even more guarding LeBron if given the opportunity. But true to his play all season for this team, he did what was asked of him. His goal is not to be the star of the team but to fulfill a role that was asked of him when he was first asked to come off the bench. And as a result of his sacrifice, he is now coming up big in the postseason.

But not only did Iguodala come up big on the defensive end of the court, he even hit some shots and made some excellent offensive plays. Iguodala was as aggressive offensively as he has been throughout the entire postseason on his way to 15 points. Two great moves he made stood out bigtime tonight in regards to the aggressive nature he possessed Thursday night. When LeBron James was guarding him to close out the 1st quarter, Iggy hit him with the crossover between his legs that left LeBron standing like he had on cement shoes. The result: a two-handed dunk at the rim. Iggy also had a steal and Eurostep for a dunk in the third quarter as well. It was the most impressive Iggy had looked the entire postseason, even hitting a three-pointer with one shoe on. He played with reckless abandon the entire night. And even though he hoisted some two bad shots, the aggressiveness was something that head coach Steve Kerr appreciated and allowed enroute to his 32 minutes of court time. If the Warriors get this type of play from Iguodala on the offensive end of the court throughout the rest of this series, then it could be huge issues for Cleveland, who struggle a lot to find offense off their bench. And it could also mean a quick NBA Finals appearance for the Cavaliers, especially if point guard Kyrie Irving’s knee injury he suffered is serious.

Iguodala did not have to sacrifice for the team this season. He could have easily asked the Warriors to trade him once the new coaching staff approached him about taking him out of the starting lineup. But instead of thinking about himself, he sacrificed himself for the betterment of the team and the chance to have something special. Well, something special is definitely brewing in Oakland and Iggy is a huge part of it. And in Game One, he had his imprints all over the game and was a huge factor in the Warriors’ comeback win.

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