OAKLAND — The Warriors buried the news.
On Monday, they announced Andre Iguodala has a knee injury and is officially listed as doubtful to play Game 4 tonight at Oracle Arena. And they made this announcement after Steve Kerr, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Warriors already had spoken to the media and left the gym. They were gone when the big news broke. They didn’t address the issue, seemed like they didn’t want to address it.
The team said Iguodala suffered a left lateral leg contusion with 7:41 remaining in Game 3. The Warriors were leading the Houston Rockets 99-75 when James Harden’s knee collided with Iguodala’s.
Harden was driving to his left. Iguodala stuck out his leg and cut him off. Harden picked up the ball, flailed his arms toward the basket and tried to draw a foul, but didn’t get the call, and rammed Iguodala in the side of the leg with his knee. Iguodala stole the ball, grabbed his left knee and hopped off the court on his right leg.
The injury seemed similar to the one Stephen Curry suffered on March 23, when Warriors center JaVale McGee fell into the side of Curry’s left knee and sprained his MCL. Curry immediately left the game and missed the next five weeks.
When Iguodala injured his knee Sunday night, he stayed on the court for 52 seconds before Kerr subbed him out. “I think he’s OK,” Kerr said at his postgame press conference on Sunday. “He said he’ll be all right.
But Iguodala got worse overnight, according to the Warriors. He didn’t practice on Monday. Kerr will update the media about Iguodala’s knee injury this afternoon during his pre-Game 4 press conference. If Iguodala misses several games, this would be a serious blow to the Warriors. Along with Draymond Green, Iguodala is their best defender. The potential seriousness of this injury may explain why no one was around to answer questions about it. Sensitive subject.
Iguodala, 34, has started 12 of the Warriors 13 playoff games this season. He started at point guard the first six playoff games when Curry was injured, and has started at small forward since Curry returned to action on May 1.
Iguodala is averaging 27.5 minutes, 7.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.5 steals in the playoffs. He is the Warriors most important player other than their four All Stars — Curry, Durant, Green and Klay Thompson.
In Game 3, Iguodala was on the court at the end of the first quarter during the Warriors 9-0 run, which gave the Warriors a nine-point leading heading into the second quarter. The Rockets never recovered from that run. Iguodala was essential to the victory.
He finished the game with a modest stat line of 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists, but was efficient — he shot 4 of 6 from the field. And he played great defense. He recorded 3 steals and 1 block in just 26 minutes, and shut down whomever he was guarding. The Rockets shot 1 for 8 from the field, 0 for 5 on 3s and scored only five points when they challenged Iguodala.
“We feed off his energy, his athletic plays, his team plays,” Durant said on Monday, “whether it’s getting steals, getting deflections, getting hockey assists, that stuff makes us feel good.”