Andre Iguodala was 3-for-27 on playoff 3-pointers entering Thursday night. But the NBA Finals were here, so of course, the Golden State Warriors swingman nailed the only shot he took behind the arc during Game 1 vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Iguodala was the 2015 NBA Finals MVP. And had the Warriors been able to win the 2016 NBA Finals in five games — remember, they had a 3-1 lead— he might have been the pick last year, too. There’s something about this matchup, this stage and this player that has made Iguodala the most consistent Warrior in the championship round, and he already looks ready to continue that trend in 2017.
Iguodala’s final stat line from Game 1 wasn’t that impressive, though. Seven points, three rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist in 24 minutes. Then you notice he shot 3-for-4 from the field, didn’t commit a turnover and was plus-14 in that span, and the similarities with how he dominated the past two Finals start popping up.
Plus, those dunks.
The Cavaliers’ historic comeback last year may not have been completed had Iguodala’s back held up. His performance dipped dramatically in Game 6 and 7, particularly on the defensive end. That was even more crucial because he was pretty much the only Warriors player capable of defending LeBron James in one-on-one situations.
This year, Iguodala remains the Warriors’ best option on James. But the addition of Kevin Durant does two huge things in that regard: 1) It gives them another rim-protector and havoc creator who can help Draymond Green when he has to switch onto James, and 2) It gives the Warriors the freedom to use Iguodala in other ways defensively, because Durant can defend LeBron well enough to handle the assignment.
Look at what happened when the Warriors put Iguodala on Kyrie Irving and Durant on James for this possession:
Throw in Klay Thompson’s great defensive effort in Game 1, and the ways that the Warriors’ defense improved with the Durant addition really come into focus. They would be dominant on that end even if Iguodala still were nursing the ankle and knee issues that hurt his play for most of the postseason.
The scary part? He seems healthy, engaged and ready to reclaim his role as NBA Finals hero.