Andre Iguodala embraced the scoring load, something that didn’t work too well for him and the 76ers in the years after the Allen Iverson era. He’s not supposed to be a leading scorer and an automatic go to guy, despite the athleticism and the highlight moves that may hide his offensive problems from less inquisitive eyes.
But as Iggy’s scoring average began to drop in recent seasons, his importance to the Sixers and his overall ability seems to have increased. He’s also been getting more recognition for everything else he does on the court, which is pretty much everything you can think of – from defense to his passing abilities and finally becoming an actual threat from beyond the arc.
And then came game 6 against the Bulls in an ugly, defensive and physical series, which was already bound to have heaps of hate and animosity in it after Evan Turner said that the Sixers match up better with the Bulls than with the Heat. The Bulls did miss their starting point guard and their starting center, but no matter the circumstances, Evan Turner was right.
The Bulls understood something when they won game 5. This wasn’t a great series in terms of attacking basketball to begin with, especially once Derrick Rose ended his part. But in order to have a chance, especially without Noah, this had to be turned out into an ugly slug-fest which had as little to do with actually basketball as possible. It almost worked for a second time in a row, but Iguodala’s clutch from the line in the end won it for Philly, winning their first postseason series since 2003.
This would have gone to a game 7 if Omer Asik, one of the worst free throw shooters in the NBA, would have made his two free throws with 7 second left. Instead, as expected, he missed both, and Iguodala raced to the other coast, went up for a layup and drew the foul. After going 23-51 from the line in the fourth quarter during the regular season, he made both shots, putting the Sixers 79-78 up, winning the asterisk series, as some Bulls fans claimed. He went 9-10 in the fourth quarter from the line during the series.
Iguodala saved his best for last. Finishing the game with 20 points and 7 assists, his biggest game of the postseason. He didn’t annihilate Deng like in previous games (Deng finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds), but we already talked about how the Bulls needed both Deng and Boozer to give their best in order to come away with a surprising win. Boozer finished with 3 points, going 1-11 from the field. Worse than terrible. And still, the Bulls nearly pulled out of Philly with a win.
This Philadelphia team is tough, and defends very well. But all throughout the seasons, especially during its second half, it seemed like their over reliance on their defensive abilities while not having any real go-t0-guy would almost cost them a playoff spot after a 20-9 spot. Eventually, they made it, helped by the overall weakness in the Heat beneath the nine team mark. With a supposed switch in Iguodala’s frame of mind and attitude on the court and offense, maybe if it won’t be such a surprise if they make life very hard against the Celtics, maybe even coming up with a shocking series win.