SAN FRANCISCO — How do you become an elite rebounder when two of your teammates are among the NBA’s best shooters ever?
Kevon Looney is showing how in these playoffs and now the NBA Finals.
“I’ve kind of got it down to a science,” Looney said ahead of Monday’s Game 5 against the Celtics.
Thanks to years of up-close viewing when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shoot, Looney’s learned how to position his body, use his strengths and anticipate how the ball might bounce his way.
“It’s from getting used to where Steph’s going to shoot it from, where Klay’s going to shoot it from, and how their misses are going to come off (the rim),” Looney said. “It definitely comes from experience, just playing with them for such a long time, knowing what spots they like to get to.”
How Curry and Thompson shoot likely will determine if the Warriors will win their fourth NBA championship. How Looney rebounds their misses — and those of the Celtics and other Warriors — is also greatly factoring into the equation.
Looney is coming off an 11-rebound effort in the Warriors’ Game 4 win Friday in Boston, where the series got even at 2-2.
He came through with 18 rebounds in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, when the Warriors finished off the Dallas Mavericks at Chase Center.
And he had 22 rebounds there when the Warriors eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 6 of the conference semis.
Looney’s career ascent has been a hot topic, and he’s been arguably the best supporting actor in this playoff cast, where Curry remains the marquee headliner and Thompson the sentimental, comeback hero.
Looney’s 6-foot-9 frame has shown a propensity to anticipate where their shots and others might veer off the mark.
“They’re some of the greatest shooters ever, so they’re not going to have a lot of bad misses,” Looney said. “So it’s just knowing where their misses are going to go to, knowing when Steph is going to drive and shoot a step-back.
“You just learn from watching and playing with them. You get a great feel for how things are going to go. It helps me with offensive rebounds and knowing when I should attack.”
What’s it like to know when Curry is dead-on accurate, like his 43-point barrage in Friday’s Game 4 win at Boston?
“I know Steph’s going to make it so I don’t have to go (to the boards) some time,” Looney added. “A lot of times he gives you a hint, because he just turns around before it goes in. Usually when he does that, it goes in.”
Looney has played in every game on the schedule, a total of 102 that leads all NBA players this season.
Kerr wouldn’t say if Looney will start or come off the bench for more grunt work Monday night.
“Part of this series for us, and part of the whole playoffs, frankly, has been trying to figure out rotations,” Kerr said. “We didn’t have our whole team together until Game 1 of the Denver series, and then Gary (Payton) got hurt. Andre (Iguodala) got hurt. So it feels like almost every series, we have had to search a little bit for combinations and for substitution patterns.”
The Celtics are looking to go 8-0 following a loss in these playoffs.
Looney is expecting another physical battle in the paint.
“It’s physical down there,” Looney said. “I usually hit first. But a lot of times this series I’ve been getting hit first. They do a great job. Sometimes I’ve got the ball and the guards come in and dig it out. It’s been real physical.”
“… We are both great teams, and I think we both have been showing that all year, that whenever you lose or get punched in the mouth, we always come back and impose our will. We have to protect home court, and we know what they are built of and made of. We know they are not going to lay down.”
You know what else Looney knows? Where the ball might go when it isn’t bouncing the Warriors’ way through the net in case Curry or Thompson, you know, miss.
Source: Paradise Post