What Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala did in Return of Warriors in Game One

What Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala did in Return of Warriors in Game One

SAN FRANCISCO – Prior to Thursday night’s tip for the first game of the NBA Finals, Warriors coach Steve Kerr announced that Otto Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II are available and able to bounce back from their injuries.

“I think all three can certainly contribute,” Kerr told reporters.

The first two did, to varying degrees, and Payton was the only Warrior who didn’t see any time to play in the Warriors’ 120-108 collapse against the Boston Celtics.

Porter, who missed the Warriors’ last two games with left foot pain, was the second player to enter the game off the bench and looked as healthy as ever on the spot. He got two quick rebounds near the end of the first quarter and opened his second drain attempt, which is 3 pointers. In fact, he made four shot attempts, all of which came from outside the arc.

In just over 24 minutes off the bench, Porter scored 12 points while he was 4 for 5 off the field, adding four rebounds and stealing twice. But he was also part of the Warriors’ surprising historic fourth-quarter run, with several defensive errors.

Jaylen Brown really blew by him early in the quarter, allowing an easy alley to Robert Williams’ second as the Celtics started to gain momentum. Brown then lost in a 3-pointer open corner kick, later assisting and leaving Payton Pritchard unchallenged in the same corner for a 3-pointer that made the game within two points for Boston.

He’s of course not alone in the Warriors’ defense getting out of the game when it really matters, but that’s why he had a rare bad night in a plus-minus, and ended up with a minus 18. The Warriors obviously need Porter’s ability to make shots, rebounds and wits Basketball. Now they need him, and a handful of others, to be on the same page defensively.

Iguodala had missed the Warriors’ last 12 games with a long neck issue and entered the first quarter to standing ovations at Chase Center. He found Porter in his first 3 pointers of the night with lovely help and then quickly made his first shot attempt shortly thereafter. Iguodala also made his first and only 3-point attempt with six seconds remaining in the third quarter to give the Warriors a 92-78 lead.

In 12 minutes off the bench, Iguodala scored seven points, went 3-4 from the field and provided three assists in his first game since April 24. in the fourth quarter.

“He has experience in finals,” Kerr said after the loss. “He helped us settle in. He’s a great defender. I thought Andre did a really good job there.”

However, after five seconds of that big triple pointer, Iguodala managed to pull off the absolute number. He inexplicably missed guard Derek White with only a second left in the third quarter. White hit both free throws, bringing Boston’s deficit to 12. The last thing you want to do is finish the quarter on a bad note, especially going into the fourth, and the Warriors did just that after Iguodala’s foul.

The Celtics then opened the fourth quarter 9-0, making it a three-point game before submerging Iguodala. Iguodala’s ugly spin was part of the Celtics race, right after Steph Curry’s return to the game.

Kerr opened the fourth quarter with Jordan Paul, Clay Thompson, Iguodala, Porter and Draymond Green. With Iguodala and Green on Earth together, the Celtics didn’t guard them. It might have been 3 out of 5.

This can’t happen against a big team like Boston, let alone the Finals.

Greene was delighted with the contributions the Warriors received from Porter and Iguodala, and is putting the burden on himself to go even better after missing 10 shots, turning the ball more than three times and missing 12 points in a loss.

“It was huge,” Greene said of recovering veterans. “They both gave us great minutes. Now I have to play better. But to get these guys back – Otto played really well. He hit the ball really well. Andre played well also in the minutes he played.

“So they did their part. I have to do their part.”

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Payton was dressed as if he was ready to play but was stuck on the sidelines with his broken left elbow wrapped. Was he wearing a toy craft more than anything else? It is very difficult to ask anything from the left person, and the Warriors were very silent about how much he could actually shoot the ball.

His return feels more like a “breaking glass in case of emergency” situation, although being alone on defense can have a huge impact.

Two days into the Warriors’ vacation until their next game should give Porter and Iguodala plenty of time to recover. They’re back, and that seems to be the case the rest of the way. Both had positive stretches, with plenty of room for improvement starting Sunday night in the Giant 2 Warriors game.

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