The Golden State Warriors will be without forward Andre Iguodala when they begin the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Oracle Arena.
Iguodala, 34, suffered a bone bruise on his left knee, after banging it against the right knee of James Harden in the middle of the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on May 20.
The Golden State medical staff evaluated Iguodala on Tuesday, and he is “making progress,” according to the team, but the bone bruise persists, and has prevented him from running without pain. The inflammation of the nerve surrounding the left knee also persists.
“I’m just trying to figure out how to move in general,” Iguodala said on Wednesday. “Just making some progress. Slower than we expected, but if you’re just being realistic, it is what it is, and it would be this time, if not longer, in a different scenario.”
Iguodala has been the Warriors’ best defender on LeBron James. He won the 2015 NBA Finals MVP for holding James to 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game.
In each of the last three finals against the Warriors, the Cavaliers’ net rating (point difference per 100 possessions) with both James and Iguodala on the floor has been -15.5 (2015), -1.5 (2016) and -13.6 (2017). With Lebron on the court, and Iguodala off, Cleveland’s net rating was +18.8 in 2015, +21.4 in 2016 and +13.2 in 2017.
Kevon Looney was exposed in extended minutes against the Houston Rockets with Iguodala out, and putting Draymond Green — the Warriors’ next-best defender — on James could be folly as well, since he’s Golden State’s best help defender.
Iguodala will be re-evaluated prior to Game 2.
“I don’t have much doubt,” Iguodala said, when asked if he’d be able to play this series. “Based on how long it’s been from when it happened, I’m not that far away.”