OAKLAND, US: Golden State forward Andre Iguodala, last year’s NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, missed practice on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) for back treatment but vowed he will play in Sunday’s deciding game of this year’s championship series.
“In this situation, you make a way, I don’t care what it is,” Iguodala said. “I don’t think anyone is 100 percent.”
The defending champion Warriors will host Cleveland with the best-of-seven NBA Finals deadlocked 3-3 and each team on the brink of a historic title in the final showdown of a physical and exhausting series.
“You understand you’re going to have some bumps and bruises,” Iguodala said. “You don’t want to use it as an excuse so you tell yourself you’re fine. You go all out to do what it takes to help your team win.”
The Cavaliers can become the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals and bring Cleveland its first major sports crown since 1964 while the Warriors can complete the winningest campaign in NBA history, 73 in the regular season alone, with a championship celebration.
Iguodala, whose defensive work against Cleveland star LeBron James was a major factor in last year’s finals, struggled with back pain late in game six Thursday, when James scored 41 points for the second consecutive game.
“You just will yourself to do it,” Iguodala said. “Still made a couple plays. A few things I couldn’t quite do, but I felt like there was a way around it.
“You just couldn’t take off as well as you would like, as far as sprinting up the floor. Going up for rebounds was really tough. I had position to get a few, but had to wait until it came to you. You do other things to combat that as far as boxing out and getting good ball position so you don’t have to put yourself in a vulnerable situation.”
The NBA changed the finals schedule this year, adding rest days after travel days. While that means this year’s finals will match the longest ever in lasting 18 days, it helps keep players at a high level.
“Extra time and things like that always help,” Iguodala said. “I’ve been getting treatment around the clock. The training staff have been doing a hell of a job, just making sure I’m good.
“It kind of just popped up. A long flight (to Cleveland) and (unfamiliar) bed and just fatigue and a lot of minutes lately. It’s just a perfect storm. But I’m glad we caught it early as opposed to happening in game seven.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he will decide on game day whether or not to limit Iguodala’s minutes.
“We’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow,” Kerr said.”But it’s game seven and he’s Andre Iguodala, so we know he’ll be out there.”