Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted: 3:29 p.m.
By Reuben FrankCSNPhilly.com
Once upon a time, the Sixers couldnt win without Andre Iguodala scoring 18 to 20 points per game. He wasnt their best option, he was their only option.
During the four years from 2007 through 2010 the 76ers first four seasons without Allen Iverson Iguodala averaged 18.5 points per game. During that span, only Iguodala and LeBron James averaged over 18 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1 12 steals per game.
This year has been a weird one for Iguodala. His scoring average is down a whopping 23 percent from the last four years, all the way down to 14.3. Thats the second-largest decline in the NBA during that span among players who are currently starters behind only Tim Duncans 30 percent drop (19.1 to 13.3).
But Duncan is old, almost 35, and in his 14th NBA season. Iguodala is 27 in his prime. And after a vintage Iguodala performance in the 76ers upset win in Chicago Monday night 19 points, seven rebounds, seven assists he spoke about his evolving role on this young Sixers team.
We have a lot of scorers, Iguodala said in an interview on NBA.com. We have a lot of guys who can shoot the ball Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks, Elton Brand. Those guys need the ball to be effective in spots where they can score. So Ive kind of tailored my game to bring everybody elses game up.
As his scoring has ebbed, the rest of Iguodalas numbers have improved. Despite nagging tendinitis in his right knee, hes averaging a career-high 6.4 assists, a career-low 2.0 turnovers per game, and hes even shooting better from three-point range 34 percent is his highest since 2005-06.
Its no coincidence that the less Iguodala has had to score, the better the 76ers have played. During the four years he averaged close to 20 points per game, the Sixers never had a winning season. This years team goes into the last two weeks of the season 38-36 and needs to go 4-4 to clinch the franchises first winning record since 2004-05 Iguodalas rookie year.
Only Iguodala and James are averaging over 14 points, 5.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds this year. And Iguodala has exactly half as many turnovers this year as James (250 to 125).
I just need to be effective, Iguodala said. High assist, low turnovers, rebounding, active.
Funny part is that I dont think Ive had a good year at all. Ive just had an average year for myself. Ive had a few injuries that have held me back, but Ive still been able to make the most of it and been able to tailor my game for the team to have some success. which is the most important thing.
This is a unique Sixers team, most likely bound for the playoffs without a single player averaging 15 points per game.
The last time the 76ers went through an entire season without anybody scoring 15 points per game was 1952, when the franchise was based in Syracuse and leading scorer Dolph Schayes averaged 13.8 per game.
But they do have six guys averaging double-digits, including Williams and Young off the bench.
Iguodala said the 76ers bench the NBAs highest-scoring bench will be critical down the stretch and in the postseason.
Theyre an important part of our team, he said. We have one of the top benches in the league. I think rookie Evan Turner is going to be a huge factor for us in the playoffs. People still havent seen what hes capable of, but everyone on the team has confidence in him. Andres Nocioni can bring something to the table for our team. Those guys are really important for us.
Coming off that inspirational win in Chicago only the Bulls fifth home loss all year the 76ers magic number to reach the playoffs is down to two. Any combination of two Sixers wins or losses by No. 9 seed Charlotte will clinch a playoff berth for Philly.
The Sixers remain in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of the Knicks and four behind the Hawks.
With the Celtics suddenly struggling 5-7 in their last 12 theres an increasing possibility that if the Sixers stay at No. 6 which looks likely theyll face the Celtics in the first round, since the Celtics are in danger of falling behind the Heat and into the No. 3 spot.
Its been eight years since the Sixers won a playoff series they beat the New Orleans Hornets 4-to-2 in a first-round series behind Iverson, Keith Van Horn, Derrick Coleman, Kenny Thomas and Eric Snow.
It will be really important to get back there, Iguodala said. It was the goal at the beginning of the year. But not just get there. If we play good basketball I think we have a legitimate shot of taking somebody right there to where we might upset them.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org
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