SAN FRANCISCO — How do you become a good rebounder when both of your teammates are among the best shooters the NBA has ever seen?
Kevon Looney has shown himself in the playoffs and now in the NBA Finals.
“I boiled it down to a science,” Rooney said ahead of Monday’s Game 5 against the Celtics.
Thanks to years of watching Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shoot up close, Rooney has learned how to position his body, use his power and predict how the ball will bounce.
“It starts with getting used to where Steph is going to shoot, where Klay is going to shoot, and how they’re shooting (at the rim),” Rooney said. “It definitely comes from experience, just playing with them for so long and knowing where they like to go.”
How Curry and Thompson shoot will determine whether the Warriors win their fourth NBA championship. How Looney bounces back from their turnovers — and those of the Celtics and other Warriors — is also a big factor in the equation.
Looney finished Friday with 11 rebounds in the Warriors’ Game 4 in Boston, a series tied 2-2.
He had 18 rebounds in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals when the Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks at Chase Center.
He had 22 rebounds when the Warriors eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Rooney’s career ascent has been a hot topic, he’s arguably the best supporting actor in this playoff lineup, Curry remains the headliner, and Thompson is the sentimental comeback hero.
Rooney’s 6-foot-9 height shows a tendency to predict where their shots and other shots might be off-target.
“They’re one of the greatest shooters of all time, so they don’t have a lot of turnovers,” Rooney said. “So just know where their mistakes are going, knowing when Steph is going to drive and shoot.
“You just learn from watching and playing. You have a good feel for how things are going. It helps me get offensive rebounds and know when I should be attacking.”
What’s it like to know when Curry is accurate, like when he scored 43 points in Game 4 against Boston on Friday?
“I knew Stephen was going to make it, so I didn’t have to go (to the board) for a while,” Rooney added. “A lot of times he’ll give you a hint because he’s just turning around before it goes in. Usually when he does, it goes in.”
Rooney has appeared in every game on the schedule, leading all NBA players in 102 games this season.
Kerr would not say whether Rooney will start or come off the bench to do more of the heavy lifting on Monday night.
“Part of this series, and part of the entire playoffs, for us, frankly, has been trying to figure out the rotation,” Kerr said. “It wasn’t until Game 1 of the Denver series that we got the whole team together, and then Gary (Payton) got hurt. Andre (Iguodala) got hurt. So it felt like almost every series, we had to Not looking for some combination and replacement pattern.”
After a playoff loss, the Celtics are looking to win 8-0.
Rooney is looking forward to another physical confrontation in the paint.
“There’s physics,” Rooney said. “I usually hit first. But a lot of times in this series I hit first. They did a good job. Sometimes I got the ball and the guards came in and scooped it out. It was real physical activity.”
“…we are all great teams and I think we all proved that throughout the year, whenever we lose or get punched, we always come back and impose our will. We have to protect Home, we know what they’re made of. We know they don’t lie down.”
Do you know what else Rooney knows? Where the ball might go when Curry or Thompson, you know, miss the ball when it doesn’t bounce the way the Warriors do.