CLEVELAND –- Andre Iguodala did his best to suppress the pain in his lower back. He had it stretched out. He lay on his back alongside the Warriors bench trying to loosen it up.
The veteran kept playing. Kept playing -– and not nearly up to his standard -– even as it was evident he was hurting as the Warriors stumbled to a 115-110 loss to the Cavaliers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
“His back tightened up,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I continued to talk with the trainers throughout the game. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything that was going to get worse. So his back was tight, but we tried to limit his minutes as much as we could.”
Iguodala was coping with "lower back stiffness,” the Warriors said. His status for Game 7 on Sunday is uncertain. He continued to get treatment after the game, where he spent an extended amount of time in the training room.
Iguodala played the entire first quarter and, after a trip to the locker room, reentered with 7:51 left in the second quarter. He played the rest of the half, though clearly in pain. He chatted during timeouts with Kerr and also with members of the training staff.
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP, whose primary defensive assignment is Cavs star LeBron James, took the floor with the rest the Warriors starters to open the second half. He totaled 5 points, four rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes. He was minus-25 for the game.
“He wanted to play, and this is probably the first time I’m happy that we have two days before a game in this series,” Kerr said. “So, hopefully, he’ll get some treatment and be ready to roll for Game 7.”
Iguodala’s presence is critical, not only to defend James but also as a facilitator for the offense. His absence would be a major blow in more ways than the Warriors care to know.