Stephen Curry was the well-deserved MVP of the regular season. LeBron James has enjoyed an incredible postseason run, even if he hasn’t been as efficient as usual. If you were to pick an NBA Finals MVP through four games, LeBron would be the choice.
But making a strong case for himself is Andre Iguodala, who has been the Golden State Warriors’ best player in this series and was the star of the Warriors’ 103-82 Game 4 victory on Thursday night.
Iguodala had played well coming off the bench in the first three games, averaging 12.3 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 60 percent from the field. All the while doing yeoman’s work on LeBron. Even though James put up those big numbers in the first three games, he really had to work for his points with Iguoudala on him, and Iggy contributed to LeBron’s unusual inefficiency.
In Game 4, Steve Kerr made the bold decision to get Iguodala into the starting lineup, as the Warriors had gotten off to poor starts in the series and Harrison Barnes had really struggled to contain LeBron. But instead of inserting Iguodala into the starting lineup over Barnes, who took Iggy’s starting job at the beginning of the year, Kerr went with Iggy over the ineffective Andrew Bogut (after Kerr told the media in the morning that Bogut was starting).
At first, it appeared the move to go small backfired, as the Cavaliers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. But even in those first few minutes, the Warriors got good shots and the pace was quickened, a style of play more to their liking. Sure enough, some of those good shots started to fall, and Golden State soon took control of the game.
Iguodala provided a huge spark on both ends, pushing the ball in transition, knocking down outside shots and continuing to do a magnificent job on LeBron. The Warriors also did a good job sending some different defensive looks at James in an attempt to get some of the role players to beat them, and that worked out as Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert combined to shoot 7-of-35 overall and 3-of-22 from three.
Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson took advantage of the small lineups to combine for 40 points and 23 rebounds (12 offensive), but it wasn’t nearly enough with those other three shooting so poorly and Iggy helping limit LeBron to just 20 points on 7-of-22 shooting. 63 percent of the Cavaliers’ possessions finished with Iguodala guarding James, and LeBron shot just 4-of-14 with Iggy guarding him, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Iguodala’s defense was great enough, but his 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting overall and 4-of-9 from three was a huge boon. The Cavaliers have sold out on guarding Curry and Klay Thompson, daring others like Iguodala, Barnes and Draymond Green to beat them. Curry scored a modest 22 points and Thompson only had nine, but Iguodala took advantage of his open looks and Green looked more like himself, notching 17 points, seven rebounds and six dimes. Barnes even hit a few important shots, including a big three in the third quarter after the Cavaliers had trimmed a 15-point deficit to three.
Thanks to Iguodala and Co., the Warriors now go back home for Game 5 with a chance to take control of the Finals. Cleveland looked gassed by the end of Game 4, and the extra day off will be a huge help to them. However, if Golden State plays its game like it did on Thursday night, it’s going to be an extremely tall order for LeBron’s Cavaliers. I’ve learned to never count out the King, but his squad looked beaten in the fourth quarter, and Iguodala’s relentless play was a big reason why. If the Warriors go on to win this series, Iggy might just be Finals MVP.