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:

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Claude Giroux spent Friday signing virtual autographs as the cover athlete for Topps NHL Skate 2017, a new onilne digital trading card game. Remember when trading cards came in a bubble gum pack? 

After the event, Giroux sat down with CSN's Michael Barkann on Philly Sports Talk for a game of “Who Does It Better: Canada or the United States?”

The game started off with a few easy softball questions, with Giroux picking the NFL over the Candian Football League. Then it got a little tougher, as Giroux chose Canadian hockey over U.S. hockey.

Despite talents like Drake and Shania Twain, Giroux went with the U.S. over Canada in music, and also chose American bacon over Canadian bacon.

Eventually, Barkann asked Giroux which beer he preffered.

“I don’t drink beer," Giroux responded.

Really? What Canadian doesn't like beer?

As he started to get up out of his seat after the interview, Giroux showed his true colors. “I love beer. I love beer,” he said.

Check out the video above to see the full game. 

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the primary target of opponents over his Hall of Fame career, Wayne Gretzky can certainly empathize with the frustration of Oilers star Connor McDavid.

McDavid and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning jostled all evening long in a 6-5 Edmonton loss. McDavid denounced the tactics of his opponent after the game, claiming Manning intentionally injured him last season; McDavid missed 37 games with a broken collarbone.

"I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that," said McDavid, who taunted Manning after scoring the second goal in the Oilers' loss.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player," Manning said, according to a statement released by the Flyers. "I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that."

Gretzky didn't mind seeing that fire in McDavid, saying competitiveness is part of what makes the great ones great. And he said the targeting comes with the territory of being a superstar. It was something he and Mario Lemieux dealt with, too.

"And Connor, he's going to get tested every night, but this is not new for him," Gretzky said Friday at the NHL board of governors meetings. "He's been tested since he was a kid and then playing junior hockey and now in the NHL and he's always responded and done his part."