What is an NBA Finals without Andre Iguodala?
The veteran swingman and 2015 NBA Finals MVP played in five straight NBA Finals with the Warriors from 2015-19, and now finds himself with a sixth straight appearance after the Miami Heat knocked off the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night.
Despite both having championship pedigree, the Warriors and Heat are not cut from the same cloth as it pertains to culture and personality. Iguodala doesn't like comparing his time in Miami to his time with the Warriors. He made that clear while discussing how some people are comparing Heat rookie Tyler Herro to Steph Curry.
But Iguodala did admit it's a totally different operation in Miami, under Pat Riley, than it was with the Warriors.
"I don’t think it’s really fair to either one of them, so I try not to compare them," Iguodala told The Athletic's Sam Amick. "I think it’s totally different. But you’ve got to look at (Heat president) Pat Riley. Pat Riley is the head of the snake, the foundation, or however you want to put it. And he’s really the one who has seen it since the mid-80s, and he has his philosophies that he’s kept in place throughout that time. And over the course of time, he’s evolved -- whether it’s technology or whatever nuances are put into the game or how the rules are changed. But his principles are still there. They’re different in their own rights, but you see the value in both of them.
"It’s just that you can take two different roads to success," Iguodala continued. "At the end of the day, the principles are still the same. You come in, you work hard, the talent is going to take you to the top. That’s sports in general. The most talented teams are going to get there at the end and are probably going to have the best shot. And then however you figure out how to bring together everyone, whether it’s through yoga or meditation (with the Warriors) or here where it’s a little bit of a different type of mindset, where it’s that we’re going to get through this pain together and that’s going to get us to the next level. It’s just different ways of taking that talent to the next level, and both have had success in the ways that they’ve gone about it. There’s a deep appreciation for both. I see here, for myself actually, the preparation here on the court (is such that) going right into the game I don’t even have to work myself into a lather. Whereas with the Warriors, I could kind of slowly work myself into it but it was more of a freelance. There’s different ways of going about it, and with both teams when I needed to be at my peak I was there."
Sure enough, with the Heat looking to knock off the Celtics and advance to the NBA Finals on Sunday, Iguodala had his best game in a Heat uniform, scoring 15 points while going 5-for-5 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
Now, Iguodala and the Heat advance to the Finals where LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will be waiting for them.
Iguodala served as one of the primary defenders on James during four of the Warriors' five NBA Finals appearances, drawing the assignment of guarding Kawhi Leonard in the only Finals that James did not appear opposite of Golden State.
“You just got to have that will, understanding you’re guarding the top talent ever,” Iguodala told The Undefeated about guarding James. “He’s going to make you pay when you make mistakes. You just try to play mistake-free basketball. Put him in vulnerable situations where you feel like you got the advantage, whether it’s a shot or a pass or where he is defensively.”
Iguodala knows how to have success against James, and will look to use his championship experience and veteran savvy to once again defeat James with the Larry O'Brien Trophy on the line.