Team Defense Got Iguodala to Orlando
Andre Iguodala’s 12.4 ppg this season is the least amount of points he’s scored since his second year in the league, yet here he is, gearing up to play in his first NBA All-Star Game. Points, though, as we all know, don’t account for defense, which has been Iguodala’s calling card the last couple of seasons. This year especially the surprise Philadelphia 76ers have taken control of the Atlantic Division due in large part to great team D, and a team playing that well deserves an All-Star.
Interestingly, Iguodala thanks his team’s defense for his ending up in Orlando, which isn’t something a lot of the other guys on the All-Star roster can say.
“Usually we’ve been really good on offense the last couple of years, but we couldn’t get stops,” Iguodala told HOOPSWORLD. “This year it’s been the opposite, where our defense has been good enough that even when we’re not making shots, we’re still in games.”
The secret to this strong defense, according to the Philadelphia star, has been the team’s familiarity with each other, as they were one of the most intact teams to return from the lockout.
“We have a solid core of guys who have been together for two years,” he said. “This summer we did a lot of team unity, hanging out with each other, because it’s not just about what’s on the court. If you can get along better with your teammates, it makes for better communication.”
It hasn’t been going quite so well of late, as Philly comes into the break in the midst of a five-game skid, but Iguodala admitted he and his teammates have just grown fatigued in this drag race of an NBA season.
“I think everybody’s exhausted, not just our team, but we might be the only team without two days in between games,” he said. “I was talking to Rudy Gay, and I told him, ‘I’m tired.’ He looked at me and said, ‘I’m tired, too.’ So guys are exhausted, but we’re still playing good basketball.”
Still: “This break came at a good time for us.”
The rest will be good for his teammates, and Iguodala himself should have a great time this weekend in one of our country’s greatest vacation destinations, but when regular season play picks back up in a few days, it will be right back to the grindstone. It won’t be any easier now that teams know how good these Sixers really are.
“We’re getting teams’ best,” he said, adding, “We’ve still got a lot of improvement. My goal is the same every year, whether it’s realistic or not—I want to win an NBA championship. I’m fighting for that. Anything can happen any given time, and we’ll keep striving for that.”
It won’t be as easy as, say, leading the Atlantic Division has been through this point in the season, but Andre Iguodala isn’t joking at all when he says that. Statistically, he’s not having a particularly interesting season, but defensively he’s playing the best ball of his life. His rebounds and steals, for example, are both near career-highs. Is that enough for this young Philly team to be taken seriously in the postseason? We’ll find out in a couple months, but in the meantime, we’ll let Iguodala enjoy the ride. It’s nowhere near over yet.