The Golden State Warriors cleared Andre Iguodala to play in Game 3 of the title series against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, 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 http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jerome-baker-jersey ,” 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 Zach Davies Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , 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.”
The Timberwolves face a must-win situation Friday when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers.
Consecutive losses have dropped Minnesota (44-35) into the middle of an extremely tight race for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. Minnesota fell to eighth in the West after losing at the Denver Nuggets 100-96 on Thursday night.
The loss at Denver occurred four days after a 121-97 rout by the Utah Jazz at Minnesota.
“We’ve got to do better,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the latest loss.
The Nuggets are also 44-35, but Minnesota holds the tiebreaker because they’ve won two of three in the head-to-head matchup so far. The teams also meet in the regular-season finale on Wednesday in Minnesota.
In the meantime, the San Antonio Spurs http://www.saintsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-marcus-davenport-jersey , Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans are each 44-34, one game in front of the Timberwolves and Nuggets with three games remaining.
Big-time help for Minnesota should be on the way, however.
Thibodeau said Thursday night there’s a good chance leading scorer Jimmy Butler returns after missing the past 17 games with a knee injury. The four-time All Star is averaging 22.2 points.
Jeff Teague also returned against Denver after missing the Utah game with a sore knee and he finished with 15 points and six assists in 36 minutes.
Derrick Rose also returned after missing the previous six games with an ankle injury but totaled just four points in 15 minutes and didn’t record and assist or rebound.
“We need everyone,” Thibodeau said. “Everyone has to step up now. We need everyone’s best. We’ve got to play great intensity on every play.”
Minnesota is 12-13 against Western Conference opponents on the road this season. They won their only other game against the Lakers at Staples Center this season, a 121-104 victory on Christmas.
The Lakers (34-44) can play spoiler for the second consecutive game.
They knocked off the Spurs 122-112 in overtime on Wednesday to keep San Antonio just inside the playoff bubble while also ending the Spurs’ chances at 50 wins for an 18th consecutive season.
Rookie Kyle Kuzma continues to be one of the brightest lights for the Lakers this season.
He scored 26 points in a 117-110 loss at the Jazz on Tuesday, then came back the following night and scored 30 in against the Spurs.
Kuzma has four 30-point games this season Cheap Josh Allen Jersey , the most by a Los Angeles rookie since Magic Johnson in 1979-80. He already became the first NBA rookie to record at least 1,200 points, 450 rebounds and 150 3-pointers in a season.
“It’s fun watching him compete at that level,” Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after Los Angeles completed the first season sweep of the Spurs since 1997-98.
Lonzo Ball was expected to be the most valuable rookie for the Lakers this season, but he’s missed the past four games with a left knee contusion and likely won’t play against the Timberwolves. He’s missed 26 games overall this season due to injury.
Brandon Ingram, the second-leading scorer for Los Angeles at 16.2 points Ian Thomas Color Rush Jersey , missed the past three games because he was in the NBA concussion protocol and his status also remains in doubt for Friday.