Andre Iguodala, expected to suffocate Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, pronounced himself fit and ready to go when his 76ers face the Bulls tonight in Game 3 at the Wells Fargo Center. The playoff series is even at one game each.
With superstar Derrick Rose suffering a season-ending knee injury in Saturday's Game 1, Deng was expected to pick up much of the scoring slack for the rest of the series. He shot just 3-for-12 in Game 2, scoring only eight points.
After Tuesday's game in Chicago, which the Sixers won 109-92, Iguodala was limping noticeably. The team announced a bit later that he was suffering from an Achilles injury.
"Two days (off) helped," said Iguodala after today's shootaround. "It may not seem like a lot of time but I did a lot of treatment yesterday and feel like I have a whole new leg today. It wasn't as bad. I got to shoot today and do more to keep my legs underneath me. Today I felt a lot better."
That's a much needed relief for the Sixers. With Iguodala, the defensive assignments which were so effective in Tuesday's win can remain the same. Without him, Chicago would appear to have several matchup advantages.
"We never even spoke on that though," said Evan Turner about the possibility of playing more minutes without Iguodala. "If he's going to play he's going to play to the fullest. Whatever happens we'll make the adjustments but at the same time that's basketball. But I think Dre will be fine."
Turner went on to talk about how important Iguodala's defense is to the team and to him, at one point calling his teammates a "defensive genius."
"If you ever sat there and talked to him, he's like a coach," Turner said. "When there comes a timeout, he can tell you everything that's broke down. Once he says stuff, you know he's telling you right, and you don't have to worry about much."
The majority of the cause was probably the absence of Rose, but the Sixers' defense was certainly better in Game 2. Getting loose balls was much better, and rebounding improved dramatically, which was the plan going in.
"In Game 1, they were just kind of clicking in all areas," said Iguodala. "Their offense was really rolling, and they were finding multiple options. Game 2 was kind of the opposite. I kind of look for the series to kind of turn into a grind, little scoring, trying to take each other out of our comfort areas."