PHILADELPHIA – Andre Iguodala is winning games for the Sixers and winning over Philadelphia with each clutch basket.

Iguodala has long been blamed for the Philadelphia 76ers’ eight-year run of painfully mediocre basketball. Before this season, he never had won a playoff series. He was labeled overpaid and overhyped, and he always led the Sixers in trade rumors.

His most memorable shot before April? Most Sixers fans would shrug at the question.

This amazing and improbable postseason, though? Take your pick.

Maybe it was the go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left in Game 6 that knocked out the top-seeded Bulls. The image of Iguodala standing on the scorer’s table and celebrating with his teammates has been an oft-replayed scene over the last few weeks.

There’s a new No. 1 contender — and a 1A — after he helped the 76ers storm back from 18 down in the third quarter Friday night to beat the Boston Celtics in Game 4. The big reason the Eastern Conference semifinals are tied 2-2 going into Monday’s Game 5 in Boston rests on Iguodala’s late-game jumpers.

Iguodala shook off a shaky shooting night with a step-back jumper over a charging Ray Allen with 1:22 left for an 85-83 lead. Then he buried the dagger.

Iguodala took the feed from a driving Lou Williams and let rip a 3-pointer from the wing. A tie game became a five-point lead with two flicks of the wrist, and Iguodala did what he wanted to do since he was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2004 draft — send a packed postseason Philly crowd into a frenzy.

After Iguodala won Game 6 against the Bulls from the line, Coach Doug Collins noted how Iguodala’s uneven career arc made him worthy of the accolades.

“For ‘Dre, he’s gone through a lot,” Collins said. “I told him, ‘Nobody deserves this more than you do to have this moment.’ “

Iguodala has heard he wasn’t ready to handle the responsibility of being the man for the Sixers. He signed an $80 million, six-year deal before the 2009 season that only served as a lightning rod when he struggled to take the Sixers past 40 wins.

Under Collins and a blossoming nucleus that includes Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, Iguodala has found his niche. He was fourth on the team in scoring this season (12.4 points) and was rewarded with his first All-Star berth. Iguodala is one of the top defenders in the league — his perimeter shut-down play is one tool that was never doubted — and he’s vying to make the U.S. Olympic team.

He’ll never play like the superstar so many expected of him. But he doesn’t have to on this unselfish team.

“I’m happy, but not as happy as I am for my teammates,” Iguodala said. “That’s something I’ve been trying to get better at as my career has gone on, which is the type of mark I leave for my teammates.”

The Celtics, meanwhile, need time to forget about the collapse.

“In the first half the execution was beautiful,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “We did all the right things. In the second half we just didn’t do it. They pressured us. They took us out of a lot of stuff.”

Kevin Garnett scored only nine points, and Rivers’ loyalty toward Ray Allen seemed to backfire in the fourth quarter.

The Sixers attacked the lane, and attacked some more. They got to the line 36 times. When there was nowhere to go, they kicked the ball out and found open shots on the perimeter. Just like Iguodala’s buckets over the final 1:30.

“We were up 15, you really have to take their confidence away from them and we didn’t do that,” Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. “We gave that team some life, they took that and ran with it and it carried all the way through the third and fourth quarter. That was really on us.”