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.


See more of Dre's rocking slams here:

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Ben Simmons is on track to return to the Sixers in January, Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. 

Previous reports indicated that Simmons, who suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in the Sixers' final training camp scrimmage on Sept. 30, would be out three months. Friday's news jives with that, but this is the first time the Sixers have given a timetable.

"It's not doom and gloom," Brown said. "Ben is coming back in January. We are still trying to find information on Jerryd (Bayless). Jahlil (Okafor) is still trying to touch the court in his first preseason game."

With long-term ramifications in mind, there had been some speculation that Simmons' camp wanted him to sit all season. 

This is rather encouraging news and it means the Sixers may avoid watching another of their top picks miss his entire first year.

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

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Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

Playoff soccer is returning to Chester for the first time in five years, and while fans prep for the Union’s first postseason games since 2011, there is no shortage of seating options for Union tickets on the primary market.

Perhaps most importantly, fans won’t have to break the bank to be on hand as the Union compete for their first MLS Cup in franchise history. Union field level seats are available for both the team’s final home regular season game against the New York Red Bulls and the Eastern Conference Semifinal on October 30 should they advance past the knockout round.

The team’s official website lists feet-on-the-pitch seating starting from $155 per ticket for this weekend’s game against the Red Bulls. The first-place Red Bulls head to Talen Energy Stadium with a first-round bye secured, but Union head coach Jim Curtin expects them to bring the pressure with them on Sunday. Fans can look on up close – and for relatively cheap - as the Union look to hand the Eastern Conference leaders their final loss of the regular season.

The Union will take on either New York City FC or Toronto FC in the knockout round either next Wednesday or Thursday. Pending a victory on the road, they’ll return to Talen Energy Stadium to host an Eastern Conference Semifinal game on October 30. Field level seating is still widely available for the team’s first home playoff game since 2011 and start from $178 per ticket.

2016 marks the franchise’s second MLS Cup Playoffs berth in its seven-year existence. They clinched a first-round bye in 2011 but fell to the Houston Dynamo by a 3-1 aggregate in the Conference Semifinals. The Union bring a much different vibe into the playoffs this season, however, after a formidable stretch from September on nearly drowned their postseason hopes. The team won its last game on August 27 against Sporting Kansas City, losing four games and drawing in two others since. 

Despite the team’s recent struggles, there is a sense of renewment that will carry them into the MLS Cup Playoffs. Records are cast aside and the slate is wiped clean, beginning a new path on the long and often tumultuous road to a national championship.