Andre Iguodala Brings the Shutdown Defense Once Again

Andre Iguodala Brings the Shutdown Defense Once Again

Andre Iguodala detractors are once again going to look at his 5-12 shooting on Friday night to finish with only 11 points in almost 40 minutes of play as yet another sign that the Sixers' glue-man is overpriced and expendable. These people are foolish. It's true his jumper wasn't falling, but the rest of his play more than made up for it. The job Dre did shutting down the Hawks' potent scorer Joe Johnson was fantastic, holding him to a mere 8 points on 3-8 shooting in 31 minutes.

[more on the Sixers 90-76 win over Atlanta here]

Shutting down opposing team's best scorer is an aspect of his game that Iguodala takes great pride in and realizes might be overlooked by many of the more casual observers.

"It's something I've always tried to set myself apart from other players since I was a kid," Dre said of his D. "That's an area that's overlooked. The game is so caught up in who's scoring what or stats. Defensively, that doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but I take pride in going up against those guys. Tonight was one of the harder players to guard. People always ask 'who are the hardest players to guard?' Joe Johnson is right up there, top five... top three. He's so strong. He's stronger than any other two guard in the league."

And Dre shut him down for the majority of the evening.

And then there were the earth-shattering dunks in the pivotal third quarter, most of them off of turnovers generated by the Sixers' swarming defense that lead to breakaways and eventually Dre slamming the rock home with authority. That got the impressive crowd of 17,724 at the Wells Fargo Center off their feet and really pushed the Sixers hometown edge into overdrive. Dre said he's used to getting the crowd excited with his slams, but it can really rile up some of the younger guys.

"It helps, definitely, it helps. But I think it plays a huge effect on our young guys. They get excited. It gives them a boost of energy so it's really good for our team."

The most jaw-dropping of Dre's slams was the alley-oop from Jrue Holiday that Iggy threw down in a Hawks' defender's face to set South Philadelphia off and give the Sixers all the momentum in the world.

And let's not forget Iguodala's two steals on the evening, sending him over the 1,000 steals mark for his career, moving him into the franchise's top 5 leaders all-time in that category.

"It's definitely something that I'll always look back on in my career," Iguodala said of being in the same company as Mo Cheeks, Allen Iverson, Dr. J, and Charles Barkley.

Iguodala should pass Sir Charles some time in the next few weeks to move into fourth all-time.

The third quarter on Friday night was perhaps the best this Sixers team has played all season. The Sixers' defense was tremendous in the third, holding Atlanta to 4-17 shooting, and the Hawks basically said mercy.

Atlanta coach Larry Drew may have said it best regarding the third quarter, "It got tough for us and we quit. That's what happened."

Having Andre Iguodala in your face can make a team want to do that.

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See more of Dre's rocking slams here:

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”