Saturday, February 12, 2011

The NBA's Best Perimeter Defender Plays In Philadelphia

Why, that'd be our very own Andre Iguodala. No, seriously.

Tonight in Philadelphia, the nearly .500 Sixers had their best win of the year, handing the visiting Spurs just their ninth loss against 44 wins. They did do, in large part, because Andre Iguodala is a defensive monster. His main man in tonight's game, small forward Richard Jefferson, played 26 minutes and went 1-for-8. His secondary assignments, the Spurs' backcourt of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, went 5 for 20 for 17 total points. In this day and age of Spurs ball, when Tim Duncan leads the club in points, you're going to win the game. And that's just what the home team did.

Now, just because you are a hammer on defense, that does not mean that life is all skittles and beer. On the offensive end, Iggy went 2 for 15 for 7 points, and how he winds up with 15 shots is just kind of insane, really. The only player on either team who had any kind of effective offensive night was point guard Jrue Holiday, who had 27, though I guess you have to give some credit to Elton Brand for his 17 boards, though with all of the bricks being throws in this one, 17 boards isn't exactly something you'll tell your kids about.

How good was the Sixer defense? So much so that they win without breaking 80 points, the first time they did that since 2003. It's also, somehow, he fourth straight year when the Sixers beat the Spurs in Philadelphia. No, that makes no sense. Nor does 8 wins in their last 11 games, or snapping the Spurs 4-game winning streak, or being able to beat the team with the Association's best record when you shoot 33%, including 3 of 17 from the arc.

Now, Iggy won't win the DPOY; that award goes to Dwight Howard until he suffers a major injury, or some new Dwight Howard-esque creature arises. And I'm actually OK with that, because basketball is like boxing, in that a good big man generally beats a good little man, and having a shot blocker to eliminate mistakes is just that helpful. It's kind like how you don't judge best picture comedies versus best picture dramas.

Now, does this really mean anything? Well, if they can keep the momentum up in Minnesota, Memphis and Houston, and finally get back to .500, maybe the snarking about the low end of the East starts to thin out. None of those teams, of course, are better than the Spurs, but there is a reason why the Sixers are 17-9 at home and 8-19 on the road. And if they do get to .500, they might find the Knicks falling behind them, which gets them the #6 seed, and still within dreaming distance of running down Orlando for the #5 seed. This team does well against Atlanta, the locked in stone #4 team; if they get them instead of the Celtics/Bulls/Heat trifecta, maybe they get a win.

But really, that's not the important takeaway now. Rather, it's that Andre Iguodala is playing defensive hoop in a pretty spectaculer way right now, and should be recognized for it. Moving on...

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