The Golden State Warriors’ Dark Horse: Andre Iguodala


The 2015 NBA Finals have been nothing short of what we all expected – an all-time finals for the ages.

With the series now tied up 2-2 heading back to Oracle Arena for a pivotal Game 5. The momentum has certainly seemed to have switched sides and now favors the Golden State Warriors; who were favorites coming in, especially after the season-ending knee injury that sidelined the Cleveland Cavaliers’ All-Star point guard, Kyrie Irving in Game 1.

However, although the Warriors are now back in the series after splitting two games in Cleveland, much of the credit has to do with someone other than reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who finally seems to be going after struggling brutally the first two games. If you ask me, the Warriors now find themselves in a best-of-three series (two of those being at home if necessary) because of Andre Iguodala, who has been the MVP of this team in the finals and certainly the dark horse behind the Golden State Warriors all season long.

Jun 11, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) celebrates with guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game four of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the course of this season, Iguodala has done one thing over and over – sacrifice for the good of the team. After starting zero games prior to Game 4, in order to spark instant offense for Golden State’s second unit (while giving Harrison Barnes the confidence needed as a starter), the 11-year veteran bought into the system of Warriors’ rookie head coach Steve Kerr, which would ultimately result in a career low season for Iguodala in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and so on.

But in these NBA Finals, Iguodala has been anything but his role playing self, leading the way along with Curry (who has finally started to get back into form) to a resurged Warriors’ team, who find themselves two wins away from their first NBA championship in forty years.

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  • Game 4 was a statement game for both the Warriors and Iguodala, who was inserted into the starting lineup for Andrew Bogut to spread the floor on offense and present a different look against the Cavs after Golden State struggled to get any sense of consistent continuity in Games 2 and 3. Kerr, ultimately needed to “shift the tempo” and play at a quicker, faster pace that had paid dividends all season long, which resulted in a franchise-high 67 wins this season. Choosing to go with a smaller lineup with Iguodala instead of Bogut would pay off well, as Iguodala would have himself quite a night on both ends of the floor.

    Iguodala stole the show in Game 4, tying a team-high in scoring with 22 points to go along with 8 rebounds, while continuing the brutal challenge of guarding four-time MVP LeBron James. LBJ was held to 4-of-14 from the field when being guarded by Iguodala; resulting in a sub-par performance by James, who finished the game with only 20 points after averaging 41 points through the first three games of the finals.

    Jun 11, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) knocks the ball away from Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter in game four of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    As good as he played defensively in Game 4, it wasn’t the first time we had seen Iguodala step up to the occasion this series. With Game 5 back at Oracle Arena, it will be interesting to see how Iguodala bounces back from an impressive performance in Game 4, in which the Warriors played like it was a must-win game for them, who feared returning back home being down 3-1. Instead, they’re tied at two a piece and have stolen back home-court advantage with the chance to become one step closer to being NBA champions with a win Sunday. Coach Kerr pulled the chess move by choosing to start Iguodala prior to tip-off and it paid off well.

    However, now that the Cavs know he’ll be in the lineup, lets see if they can adjust to their perimeter-reilant offense in Game 5, while trying to punish this smaller lineup by attacking the paint more often and continuing to dominate on the boards with the likes of Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov, to go along with who other than King James.

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    However, if the Cavaliers can’t seem to find a way to adjust, it seems like the Warriors are peaking at just the right moment with Curry starting to play better as of late to match the stellar play of Iguodala, who would be the Finals MVP if the series ended today. The dark horse is doing exactly what has been asked of him. Now it’s just a matter of Iguodala continuing to harass James’ on the defensive end and hitting his shots from the perimeter like he has been with so much attention being drawn by the Splash Bros.

    No matter how the finals turn out, its been intriguing to see Iguodala play like his younger self years ago with the Philadelphia 76ers. I think he’s the vital asset for Golden State’s chances to finish off this series with his ferocious defense and timely jump shots when called upon.