With their historic season on the line, the Golden State Warriors have forced a game seven; a lot of credit should be given to Andre Iguodala’s defense down the stretch. In the last three minutes of the game and potentially their season, Iguodala rose to the challenge to pressure Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook into tough shots and turnovers that led to Warriors’ buckets at the other end.
In the play below, the Oklahoma City Thunder run an isolation play for Durant on the wing. As soon as he catches the ball at the three-point line, Iguodala is already there to take up any airspace. Dion Waiters in the corner clears out to create more space but Stephen Curry loads up on the isolation to help Iguodala take the baseline drive away. Durant makes his move, sees Curry coming and spins towards the middle but Iguodala is there. He looks as if he’s about to attempt a difficult fade-away but sees Serge Ibaka cutting. Durant attempts to make the pass while in mid-air but it’s behind him and the Warriors recover it. This leads to a transition three for Curry to tie the game.
On the next possession, the Thunder run the same Iso play for Durant with the game tied. The Warriors cover it the same way this time with Draymond Green discouraging a baseline drive. The ever-deadly Durant jab steps to his left and gets Iguodala to shift his weight. He thinks he’s free for a one-dribble pull-up to his right but the length of Iguodala allows him to recover. He makes a great play to knock the ball out of Durant’s hands taking the shot attempt away.
With 2 minutes left, Iguodala switches on to Westbrook with the game tied. Westbrook fakes right and goes left in an attempt to lose Iguodala but isn’t successful. He stumbles near the free throw line, and with the shot clock winding down attempts a tough fade-away. Like the previous play, Iguodala gets his hands on the ball and strips him clean. This time he keeps the ball in-bounds and in transition finds the red hot Klay Thompson for the go-ahead three.
More attention will be given to the amazing 19 point fourth quarter Thompson had to save the Warriors’ season but some of the spotlight needs to be shed on Iguodala’s tough defense on the Thunder’s superstars. In the fourth quarter he was a plus 14 points while on the floor with three steals in eleven minutes. If it wasn’t for his defensive stands down the stretch, the Warriors could have seen their 73-win season come to a disastrous end. Iguodala’s defense helped to turn an eight-point into a seven-point win and force a game 7.