Warriors make change, start Looney over Kuminga in Game 6 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Welcome back to the starting lineup, Kevon Looney.
The Warriors are looking for an answer to match the size and physicality of Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams, so acting head coach Mike Brown has turned to Looney for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday night at Chase Center.
Looney hasn’t started since Game 4 of the first round vs. the Denver Nuggets. Since then, Jordan Poole, Gary Payton II and Jonathan Kuminga all have started alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green. Now, it’s Looney’s time to be back on the floor for the opening tip.
Kuminga started the previous three games as the Warriors tried to match the Grizzlies’ length and athleticism early on with Payton out after sustaining a fractured left elbow in Golden State’s Game 2 loss. The 19-year-old rookie became the youngest player to start an NBA playoff game since starters began being tracked in the 1970-71 season. But the experiment didn’t work.
While Kuminga put up some big numbers in garbage time of Game 3 and Game 5, he was a combined minus-22 over 18 minutes in the first quarter of the last three games.
Looney, while playing just over 15 minutes per game so far in the second round, has averaged 5.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He also ranks fourth among active rotation players in rebounds per 36 minutes with 12.8 Adams sits atop that category at 19.8 rebounds per 36 minutes.
“To have a big body out there to help out every once in a while, we have to figure out ways to keep him on the floor and help us out,” Brown said about Looney during his pregame press conference.
Adams has grabbed 28 rebounds — 16 on defense and 12 on offense — the last two games combined. The Warriors surprisingly won the rebounding battle the first four games, but were outrebounded 55 to 37 in their blowout loss just two nights ago. That also was the second straight game where the Grizzlies scored more points in the paint than the Warriors.
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It just so happens that Adams started each of those last two games.
As the Warriors look to put an end to the Grizzlies’ season, the hope is Looney can get them going again on the glass. That’s a clear key for them to end this series, and it will be something to keep a close eye on from start to finish.