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Warriors confirm Iguodala to miss NBA Finals opener


by Jim SLATER / Agence France-Presse

Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala will miss Thursday’s opening game of the NBA Finals with a bone bruise in his left leg, the defending league champions confirmed Wednesday.

Iguodala, a 34-year-old swingman who was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in Golden State’s 2015 championship campaign and a key reserve in last season’s 16-1 playoff run to the crown.

“Had some really good days. Had some really bad days. You can’t put a number on it,” Iguodala said when asked when he might don his uniform again.”

Iguodala suffered the injury in game three of the Western Conference finals against Houston and missed the final four games of the series against the Rockets.

“Based on how long it has been since it happened, I’m not too far away,” said Iguodala.

“I don’t have too much doubt. Just trying to get back as soon as possible. Just keep grinding away at the process. Just trying to figure out how to move in general.”

Iguodala was evaluated by team medical staff on Tuesday before being ruled out of Thursday’s home contest against Cleveland to begin the best-of-seven championship series — their fourth in a row against the Cavaliers.

“The evaluation indicated Iguodala is making progress,” the statement said. “However, the pain accompanying the bone bruise persists, as does inflammation of the nerve surrounding his left knee.”

The Warriors held out hope Iguodala would return for game two on Sunday.

“He is currently listed as out for game one of the NBA Finals and will be re-evaluated again prior to game two,” the statement said.

Iguodala is seen as one of the best Warriors defenders against Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.

“LeBron is a very cerebral player,” Iguodala said. “He does a good job of always being a threat and a good job of making his teammates a threat.

“You’ve just got to stay locked in. You can’t take any possessions off. You respect the talent. Just looking forward to the challenge of going out there and helping the team win.”

Iguodala relishes the challenge of a fourth consecutive finals showdown with James and the Cavaliers, the first time in US pro sports such a “four-peat” has happened.

“It’s two great teams, the best teams going against each other,” Iguodala said. “But there’s none of that hate stuff.”

Iguodala has averaged 7.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists a game in the playoffs. For the season, Iguodala averaged 6.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

Iguodala, a member of the US 2012 Olympic gold medal team, is in his 14th NBA season and fifth with the Warriors, with career averages of 12.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game.

– Cavs eyed Iguodala –
James, who has battled Iguodala through the past three finals, respects his long-time rival.

“He has very, very quick hands. That doesn’t get talked about a lot,” James said. “His ability to react to the ball either in the flight or while you’re dribbling or while you pick the ball up. But at the end of the day, his athleticism allows him to play some of the premier perimeter players in our league. He has just added to his game every single season he has been in the NBA.”

James said that he and Iguodala were nearly teammates but he was picked by Philadelphia ninth in the 2004 NBA Draft one spot before Cleveland would have taken him.

“We were one pick away from drafting him before Philly took him,” James said. “I had loved him at Arizona and was hoping that he slid to us with that pick.” (AFP)