Understanding that you need to perform in the Playoffs is not a new concept for new Kevon Looney. The young Golden State Warrior is currently in his third post season campaign and his experience is showing.
After averaging only 13 minutes per game in the regular season, Looney has already been playing in excess of 20 minutes a night through the first round of the Playoffs, and as Looney’s Warriors squared off against the New Orleans Pelicans and their dominant big man Anthony Davis, Looney’s ability to have an impact was more important than ever.
Looney was instrumental in coming into Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi Finals, where at a critical moment he was able to help in containing Davis – setting his team up with a commanding first half lead that would be too much for New Orleans to overcome.
Speaking after the Warriors win, Looney says that it was just great to be out on the floor.
“It was a lot of fun getting to compete. He’s (Anthony Davis) a load on the offensive end, you know he’s going to make tough shots. You’ve just got to stay confident and make him take contested shots and send him to your help and make everything tough for him.”
With the game tied in the second quarter, the Golden State needed a spark, and Kevin Durant says, that Loony was that spark that ignited the huge second quarter run that blew the game apart.
“Loon blocked the shot, blocked Rondo’s shot and that kind of got us going. He played great tonight. I think that was the turning point for us when he got that shot at the rim.” Durant (Kevin Durant) continues, “That just gave us some energy and got our crowd into it, as well and we was able to string together some stops and get out on a run. This team is dynamic on the offensive end, the Pelicans, so we know we have to be on point every possession if we want to win.”
Without having consistent minutes it can be tough for a role player to step up under pressure, however Looney relishes the opportunity, and wants to be the one to step up for his team.
“I know my role, I know what I’m supposed to do when I get out there so that gives me confidence. I know the game plan, I feel like I’m a smart player so I take pride in knowing the game plan and executing, going out there and doing my job.” Says Looney.
“I’ve got guys out there that make it easy for me in KD (Kevin Durant), Draymond (Green), Andre (Iguoldala), Klay (Thompson), so when I go out there I just play my role and do the best I can.”
With a plus/minus efficiency rating of +34 Looney’s stat line might not have looked overly impressive, but his impact on the game was profound as pointed out by Warriors head coach Steve Kerr after the win.
“That’s a good number, plus 34. Loon’s had a great year. He’s a smart player and he did a good job on (Anthony) Davis. He was a key for us tonight, but I thought the defense in general was great and that was the most important aspect of the game. The defense allowed us to get going in the second quarter and get out in transition and break things open.”
After his performance in Game 1, now we will have to wait to see if Coach Kerr continues to play Looney for extended minutes throughout the series as Golden State look to progress to the Western Conference Finals.
Game 2 of the Warriors and Pelicans Western Conference Semi Finals matchup will take place on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena as the Pelicans try to steal a game on the road before the series heads across to New Orleans.