CLEVELAND >> Andre Iguodala, welcome back to the NBA Finals.
The Golden State Warriors cleared Andre Iguodala to play in Game 3 of the title series against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, following a six-game absence to deal with a bone bruise around his left knee.
Iguodala hadn’t played since Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against Houston, and the Warriors went 4-2 in his absence.
“Andre helps us in every regard,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s one of the smartest players in the league.”
Iguodala’s return figures to be another big boost for the Warriors, who lead the Cavaliers 2-0 in this series and now get the 2015 NBA Finals MVP back into their rotation.
Iguodala has averaged 11.4 points in 18 past finals games — including a 20-point showing for Golden State in last year’s title clincher against the Cavaliers. He had been starting for Golden State in these playoffs, part of what is known as the Warriors’ “Hamptons 5” lineup in a nod to the four players who went on the recruiting trip to lure Kevin Durant to their team two summers ago.
Iguodala is averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in this postseason.
“We talk about his versatility all the time,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “We talk about the ways that he can fill holes defensively and offensively for us, especially against teams that we have such familiarity with. He’s such a high-IQ type of guy that he’ll most likely find himself in the right place at the right time and help our rotation get back to what we’re consistently used to.
“Just for him, just as a person, to be healthy and be able to play in The Finals now that we’re here, I think that would mean a lot to him and give us an emotional boost as well.”
With Iguodala, his value goes far deeper than stats.
Players, coaches and even opponents rave about how he makes the Warriors better with his decision-making and how he’s a calming influence on the floor. And with Golden State already halfway to the four wins needed for another NBA title, his presence will make this comeback attempt by the Cavaliers in this series only more challenging.
“We all know what he’s capable of and how he helps this team,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “So it will be a huge boost for us.”