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Iguodala Ready to Return

November 22, 2010

From 76ers Insider:

When the curtain was raised revealing the end of the Sixers’ practice, Andre Iguodala could be seen participating in a shooting drill with his teammates. Iguodala has been sidelined since last Monday when at a shootaround in Cleveland he told Doug Collins that he had “tweaked” his Achilles and didn’t feel like he could play.

Sunday marked his return to the court.

“The biggest thing is landing,” Iguodala said describing how the Achilles feels when he rises for a jumper. “I re-aggravated it against Dallas and that was it — going up and coming back down so hopefully it doesn’t flare up like it did before and I can just play through the pain.”

Iguodala put in extra conditioning after the organized practice was over when he teamed up with Jodie Meeks to play two on two against assistant coach Aaron McKie and Craig Brackins.

“I don’t care how good an athlete you are when you’ve been out a while,” Collins said, tailing off. “I think he’s hoping to get one more good practice in and be ready to go.”

That would make Iguodala ready to go against Washington on Tuesday.
That meeting will be revenge driven even if no one admits it because the Wizards beat the Sixers earlier this month 116-115 in overtime. John Wall was sensational in that contest, but he has missed the last four games because of a sore foot. Wall is expected back Tuesday night as well.

As for Iguodala’s return, Collins is looking forward to having a healthy lineup.

“Then our rotation becomes Jrue [Holliday], Evan [Turner], Dre, Elton [Brand] and Spencer [Hawes],” Collins explained. “And then you come in with Lou [Williams] and Noch [Andres Nocioni] and Thad and maybe Mo Speights and now all the sudden you have your rotation.”

In Iguodala’s absence Thaddeus Young has played more and prospered. Young’s natural position is small forward, but his more effective position at the NBA level has been power forward. Ironically Collins has learned Young is capable at playing both positions depending on the match-up.

“If Thad is on the floor as a three he has to have two other good ball handlers with him,” Collins said. “I don’t want to put him in a position to have to make a lot of those plays. Thad out there gives us quickness and a threat on the break.

“I have no preference at all,” Young said when asked where he wanted to play. “The preference is let’s take advantage of a mismatch; if I have it at the four let’s take advantage of that; if I have it at the three let’s take advantage of that.”

Young clearly took advantage Friday night against the Bucks whenever he could, finishing with a game-high 23 points. But for all he did right, Iguodala and Collins got in his ear about a couple possibly costly plays.

“It was the same thing coach was saying,” Iguodala said of the discussion, going on to explain one play in particular he questioned. “When you have an end of the shot clock situation — not going for the offensive rebound plus getting called for a foul.”

That is exactly what happened to Young at the end of the third quarter in Dallas on Nov. 12.

That is just not smart basketball and, on a team that has no margin for error, it cannot happen. Iguodala thinks he knows some of what causes Young to “go for it” when the bigger picture would stress not to.

“He has a lot of pressure on him,” he said. “Guys can have pressure on them in contract years and the best thing is to not worry about it and just play basketball.”

The Sixers can make a qualifying offer on Young anytime between now and July 1 that would make him a restricted free agent next summer. He feels pressure to perform and the Sixers may feel pressure not knowing what the right direction to go. Still, there is no disputing that Doug Collins is trying to bring out the best in this guy and, little by little, the Young of two years ago is surfacing.

“The guys are all trying and listening,” Collins stressed.

“The biggest thing is take care of the ball,” Iguodala said. “Everyone is trying to make a play and trying to be the hero. If we just settle down and make plays and at least get an attempt… I mean even if we take a bad shot it’s going to go in or not, 50-50. If we turn it over it has zero percent chance of going in the basket so it’s just a matter of playing smart.”

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