MIAMI - Andre Iguodala is playing with a balky knee that has been bothering him most of the season and caused him to miss the final two regular-season games in order to get ready for this playoff series against the Miami Heat, which the 76ers now trail 1-0 after Saturday's 97-89 loss.
In Game 1, Iguodala was originally assigned to guard LeBron James and did more than an admirable job by limiting him to four field goals.
In the fourth quarter, coach Doug Collins said he moved Iguodala over to Dwyane Wade in an attempt to slow down the player who is the Heat's go-to guy down the stretch.
James, Wade and painful knee tendinitis. It's enough to make a basketball player want to bury his head in a towel on the bench while the trainer wraps the knee in order to keep it warm and somewhat steady.
But here's the caveat. The Sixers need even more from Iguodala.
Saturday, he scored just four points, finishing the game with only two successful field goals in seven attempts. Iguodala missed all three of his shots in the final quarter, when the Sixers had clawed back to get to within one with 2 minutes, 23 seconds left play.
Throughout the season, when the Sixers needed a bucket at the end of a quarter, half or game, many times the clear out came for Iguodala, who would try to break his man off the dribble and create. Too often, Iguodala would pull up for jump shots, which certainly isn't the best part of his offensive game. Many times he seemed to get to the basket only to pass the ball out, instead of continuing his progress to the rim.
Saturday, there were several times when Iguodala seemed to have a clear path to the basket, and when he rose you expected him to throw down one of his thunderous dunks. Instead, he would throw a jump-bounce pass to a teammate further away from the basket or fire it across court where the offense would start all over again.
As much as his defense is appreciated and needed, if the Sixers are going to make some noise in this series, which resumes tonight at 7 o'clock at American Airlines Arena, Iguodala is going to have to score.
"We need some more points [from him], we do," said Collins after yesterday's practice. "He got us four [points in Game 1] and actually got the first two of the game on a tip and then got one [basket] early in the third quarter. We got the ball in his hands a lot, he did get a lot of assists for us [nine] and eight rebounds. But with our team, right now, and with Lou [Williams] trying to get himself back [from injury], we're going to need some points from him."
Williams played just under 23 minutes on Saturday and scored 10 points in his first game back since March 12 after suffering a strained hamstring. With him less than 100 percent, it really is imperative for Iguodala to help out more offensively.
"I think I have to get myself in better position," Iguodala said. "I don't think I gave myself some opportunities."
When asked if perhaps his plate is too full - with the expectations of him being a shut-down defender on two of the best players in the world and then having to rebound and assist - to add scoring to it, Iguodala flatly stated: "I've just got to go out and play."
He did that for 37 gutsy minutes on Saturday. He defended so well that after the game Heat coach Erik Spoelstra compared him to Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.
Still, he took just those seven shots, all from outside, two of them three-pointers. Then there were those drives that seemingly could have accounted for some points had they not ended up being pass-outs.
"I think he's going to have a nice breakout game scoring," said Elton Brand, who posted 17 points in the opener. "He doesn't have to, but I think he will. He does so much for us on the defensive end. And his passing and rebounding. He only took [seven] shots. That's because they're trapping him. But he's seeing the floor, he's seeing other guys. I really think he'll have a breakout game scoring-wise. We were close in Game 1 without his scoring. But he could do what he did, passing the ball and rebounding, and I think we could still get the victories."
Scoring from Iguodala would make things easier on Thaddeus Young (20 points), Brand and Jrue Holiday (19 points).
Is it fair to ask even more from Iguodala, when you consider the bad knee and the defensive assignments that he faces in this series? It has to be. This is the playoffs, where stars shine brightest, and Iguodala does consider himself a star in this league.
"He's a brilliant defender," Collins said. "We're a team that last year was 22nd in the league in field-goal percentage defense, 30th in defending the three. When you make a jump to ninth and sixth in those areas, somebody has to be one of the reasons. And Dre, not only his on-the-ball defense but also the mistakes that he covers up for your team when he's off the ball . . . Dre has been fabulous. That's why he gets eight rebounds, he gets nine assists and you say you'd like to see a little bit more from him in points . . . Other guys are going to have to step up and make shots, too."
-- Lou Williams on his return from his hamstring injury:
"I actually felt good, I just felt that my mobility wasn't as good as it's always been. I wasn't able to get past guys like I usually do, I had to settle for a lot of jump shots. Other than that, my wind was good, my shot felt good. Obviously, a lot of them didn't go down, but outside of that I was OK.
"The [Heat] make aggressive plays going to the rim. I don't want to get into any trouble. Just not being able to be the aggressive player I usually am. It kills half of my game when I can't get in the lane and create fouls. I was better and better, so I think the second game I'll be better. The first game I was able to get out there and kind of feel my way out. In the second game, I won't be as tentative. That takes away half of my aggression. I just don't want to pull it again. Any time you're dealing with a hamstring, that can put you out; if it goes again, I'm done."
-- Doug Collins on his talk with Williams after practice yesterday:
"I asked him how he thought today went and asked if there's anything more I could do to help our team. I always put myself in the position that I want to make sure that I'm doing everything I can to give our team a chance to win. I think Lou's going to be better [tonight]. I think he feels pretty good. Today, we just had a walk through and just tried to go through some stuff."
4:The number of consecutive playoff games the Sixers have lost since taking a 2-1 lead over the Orlando Magic in a 2009 opening-round series.
Percent from the field the Sixers shot on Saturday after shooting 10-for-14 (71.4 percent) to open the game. The Sixers made just 25 of their last 71 field-goal attempts.
The number of turnovers for Jrue Holiday in Game 1, while playing 39 minutes, 15 seconds. He is the first Sixers guard to play at least 39 minutes without a turnover in a playoff game since Aaron McKie did so while playing 41 minutes against Milwaukee in 2001.
Number of series-opening wins for the Heat in its last five playoff series after winning Game 1 against the Sixers on Saturday.
Number of wins for the Heat in its last 35 home playoff games.