It’s easy forget how good the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala was all those years. He was an All-Star and an All-Defense First-teamer, a career 14-6-5-2 guy, as in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game.
But the playoffs are when names are made, and until this year, Iguodala’s wasn’t mentioned very often. The man known as Dolla Billz spent his first 10 seasons with mostly ordinary teams that combined for one series victory in the playoffs.
That changed in Cleveland on Thursday. Boy, did it ever. In a virtual must-win situation, Iguodala outplayed the Cavaliers legend LeBron James in his first start of the season.
Iggy was jiggy, which is to say highly active and crazy good at both ends of the court.
“This a great opportunity for everybody to show what he can do on the court,” said Iguodala, motivated in no small way by the national stage.
Even more impressive than his team-highs of 22 points, four 3-pointers and eight assists was his work on defense, where he helped turn James into a mere mortal. James scored 20 points — about 16 below his average in the series — and he shot only 7 of 22 in the field.
“Well, we’ve been going at each other for a decade,” Iguodala reminded an ABC reporter immediately afterward. “We’ve had some really good battles. He’s the best player in the world for a reason. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s very blessed guy. But we’ve got a lot of blessed guys as well.”
None has been more indispensable than Iguodala, the most valuable piece in the playoffs. After James controlled the first three games of the series, coach Steve Kerr decided to start Iguodala in place of Andrew Bogut, a role that he had played throughout his career until this season.
‘BOUT TIME: As Balls suspected would happen all along, the Warriors’ depth began to take its toll on a short-handed Cavaliers team that relied on seven or eight players in the series.
Even before James suffered a cut on the head in the first half, he appeared to be physically spent. The guy has attempted 129 field goals in four games, and that’s a load that not even Superman can be expected to handle this late in the season.
Finally, The Warriors also forced James to give up the ball, which allowed them to pick up the pace. And when James doesn’t have it, who can beat them at the perimeter? Matthew Dellavedova (3 of 14)? J.R. Smith (2 of 12)? Iman Shumpert (2 of 9)? No, no and no.
DELLY ON A ROLL: At this rate, Dellavedova could be commissioner of the Australian Rules basketball league before long. For now, the Cavaliers guard may have to settle to have his name on the Dellavedova Dome in Maryborough, the five-figure town where he was born in rural Australia.
“That’s where Matt Dellavedova learned his craft and the Maryborough Basketball Association have suggested that the stadium, which is a two-court stadium, ought to be renamed after Matthew,” Central Goldfield Shire CEO Mark Johnson said. “He’s certainly put Maryborough on the world map. It’s just fantastic.”
Dellavedova writes a column for the Bendigo Advertiser, the Maryborough paper that proclaimed “Dellavedova Talk of the Town” in a headline this week. Outside of his hometown, though, the St. Mary’s alum is hardly a household name in his native country, where basketball is little more than an afterthought.
That was apparent when a local satellite news commentator referred to him as Delavidva and Delavidova the other day.
JUST ASKIN’: What does it say for the rest of the NBA that Dellavedova gets all this praise because he plays hard every game?
HISTORY LESSON: Yeah, James has been pretty good in the series, but he’s no Rick Barry, that’s for sure.
In the 1967 NBA Finals, Barry put up 40.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game against Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers, maybe the best team ever. And he did it on a bum ankle that had to be shot up before and during the games.
Eight years later, Barry averaged 29.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 steals in a sweep of the Washington Bullets and was selected Most Valuable Player in the series. In the regular season, the Bullets won a league-high 60 games with a pair of Hall Famers (Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld) and a third All-Star (Cal product Phil Chenier) on their roster.
GIANT STEP FORWARD: This week Giants superfan Bryan Stow walked into the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on crutches, one of the few times he was seen without a wheelchair in public. There he thanked the people who assisted in his rehab program after his brutal attack at Dodger Stadium four years ago.
Even if it takes Stow a while to walk on his own, which is his next goal, he’s the Comeback Person of the Year in a runaway.
YOUR TURN: “Now I know why the Warriors are going to lose this series. Bad attitude, body language and coaching. Give the Cavs their due. They are a team. They will win as a team.” — Tim Bauman, University Heights, Ohio
(Take away James, and they’re a team, all right — the 1970-71 Cleveland Cavaliers.)
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