The Golden State Warriors have a reputation as one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Now that wing Andre Iguodala is back from injury, they're making their case as one of the most dangerous teams in the West once again. Heading into Friday night's game at the Atlanta Hawks, the Warriors were riding a league-best seven-game winning streak that has included
It took a thrilling comeback and heroic moment from Iguodala to extend that run to eight games. Down 91-76 with 6:33 remaining in regulation and looking very tired on the second night of a back-to-back, the Warriors finished the game on a 26-7 run to escape with the streak intact. The big play came on the final possession with the Warriors down 100-98 and 3.2 seconds on the clock. With the Hawks intent on stopping sharpshooter Stephen Curry from getting off a game-winning look, Iguodala found space on the left wing following his own inbounds pass, received the ball from a trapped Curry, and knocked down a wide-open three-pointer at the buzzer to take the game 101-100.
Blame for this basket will fall on Hawks center Pero Antic, who moved off Iguodala and trapped Curry a bit too early, at a point when Curry had nothing resembling a good luck and with plenty of time for him to find an open player. While Antic performed quite well overall (16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc), his mistake showed how much the Hawks miss All-Star center Al Horford, who will miss the entire season after undergoing surgery on his torn pectoral muscle.
The Warriors, meanwhile, continued to prove how dangerous they can be with a healthy starting lineup. Since returning from a hamstring injury on December 17, Iguodala has helped the Warriors win nine of 10 games, including victories over the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and Miami Heat. Despite a career-low scoring average, Iguodala has been an essential player for Golden State, serving as an offensive facilitator and defensive linchpin. This shot was his second game-winning buzzer-beater of the season, following his even more dramatic November 14 basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
At 22-13, the Warriors are still just fifth in the crowded West standings. However, wins like this one prove that they're developing into an increasingly tough team, the sort that can come back from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit and transcend a night of poor shooting from beyond the arc (6-of-27 on Friday). The Warriors are arguably more susceptible to injury than many of their rivals, and this streak certainly won't last forever. Right now, though, they look like the team that several observers this summer thought had a shot at challenging for the conference title.
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