Andre Iguodala’s playoffs looked like they were in jeopardy. A left calf injury re-aggravated late in Game 1 might have been the only thing that could stop “playoff Andre.”
Defenses now scheme to give the veteran open 3’s. We’ve seen it throughout the regular season and playoffs. Teams want him taking that shot. But everyone should know by now: so do the Warriors.
An Iguodoala dagger 3 with seven seconds left lifted Golden State and evened the series after a 109-104 win Sunday.
Iguodala had been quiet for most of the contest. As the Raptors doubled and blitzed Stephen Curry all game long, he would kick out to Iguodala, only for the starting forward to not even look at the basket. But that all changed after halftime. He put up eight points, seven boards and three assists in the second half, a line that the Warriors have become accustomed to seeing.
He also had a lot of help.
Draymond Green played like he vowed to after Game 1, displaying amped-up energy and rabid defense. Green put up 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, narrowly missing out on his fourth consecutive triple-double.
Green also pushed the pace on offense, which is when he’s at his most dangerous, while simultaneously shutting down the Raptors transition offense. He held Pascal Siakam to just 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting, a far cry from his ultra-efficient first game.
Green’s front court partner DeMarcus Cousins returned to the starting lineup just a game just eight minutes in Game 1. It seemed like an odd decision considering that the Warriors got eaten up in transition and on defense the first contest.
But he gave them something they haven’t had with Kevin Durant sidelined, someone who could draw fouls in bunches. Cousins single-handedly put Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in first half foul trouble and shot four free throws in his 11 minutes.
Toronto tried to pick on him defensively, putting him in pick-and-roll every possession. It worked for the most part in the first half as the Warriors continued to try and blitz Kawhi Leonard on every pick, which led to some dicey rotations and forced Cousins to quickly get out and recover on shooters.
But again, the adjustments came in the second half. They started playing a more traditional pick-and-roll defense, put Klay Thompson on Leonard and completely shut down the Raptors offense. They started the third on an 18-0 run to put themselves in firm control after looking dead in the water in the first half.
And Cousins was in the middle of everything. He had a ginormous 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in an equally impressive 28 minutes. Sans Durant, his passing unlocked the Warriors stagnant offense and enabled the team to feast on Toronto’s overplay of Curry.
Cousins’ minutes were not only a reward for his play, they were also a necessity, as Kevon Looney went down with a sprained collar bone and was unable to return after playing just 10 minutes. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Thompson was forced out of the game with an injured hamstring. He was in the midst of one of his best games of the playoffs, going for 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and played gritty defense on Leonard. He was seen limping severely after the game and might be in jeopardy for the next game.
But both of Thompson and Looney’s replacements made immediate impacts.
Quinn Cook, who has struggled recently with his 3-point stroke, gave the Warriors a huge 21-minute, nine-point game. And closed the game alongside Curry, Cousins, Iguodala and Green, with Thompson being unavailable.
And of course, Curry poured in his usual 23 points, but did so in a weird way. He was constantly getting checked out by the team doctor in the first quarter and didn’t look like his normal self, standing around on offense and not bringing the ball up at all. But in true Curry fashion, worked himself into a night, getting to the line nine times and relying on floaters more than his 3-point stroke.
The hard part is over, the Warriors evened the series as the Finals shifts to Oakland. But almost equally as hard, is the wait to see the extent of these injuries. We could see an entirely different team the next game on US soil.
Golden State will have two full days to recover from their injuries before they have to suit up again Wednesday for Game 3.