Proud of Warriors adaptability, Kerr stands ready to tinker with NBA playoff and Finals line-up

The Golden State Warriors were outshot 47-31 in a 116-110 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The solution to their problems on glass seemed simple on the surface.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr only had to take on Kevon Looney, a center who averaged 13.8 rebounds per 36 minutes and had a league-best 56 offensive rebounds in the playoffs. playoffs. The team‘s rebound rate is 54.3 with Looney in the field and 50.0 without him. He played just 17 minutes in Game 3 but had seven rebounds, which tied Andrew Wiggins’ team record in less than half the minutes Wiggins received.

Looney ended up grabbing 11 rebounds in 28 minutes in Game 4, and Golden State crushed Boston on the glass 55-42. Still, that didn’t make Kerr’s decision to cast Otto Porter Jr. on him any less perplexing.

Asked about the decision on Sunday, Kerr said that even in the middle of the final he is still experimenting with his rotations and trying to find any tactical advantage possible.

“We didn’t have our whole team together until Game 1 of the Denver series, and then Gary (Payton II) got injured,” he said. “André (Iguodala) was injured. So, it’s like in almost every series, we had to look a bit for combinations and substitute models.

Porter’s first playoff start also came as a surprise to him. He said Kerr gave him no indication that a lineup change was imminent. “I just have to be ready for anything,” Porter said.

Kerr’s decision to start Porter was an early misfire as Boston took a 7-2 advantage on the glass. The game changed immediately when Looney checked in for Porter with 7:23 left in the first quarter. He grabbed four rebounds in his first two minutes on the court. Golden State had just two total rebounds as they sat down to open the game.

Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney smiles after warming up before facing the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

Looney seems to have bounced back up to a science this postseason.

“It definitely got better,” Looney said. “Knowing when to leave and knowing when it will help my team, knowing when to come back in defence. I’m just learning my body position, I’m learning my strength and I know, I’m getting used to where Steph (Curry) is going to shoot from, where Klay (Thompson) is going to shoot him from and where the misfires are going to happen and different things like that. Coach (Dejan Milojevic) has been talking to me all year about different body positions and different angles and how to use your hands in the position. I have improved a lot this year.

Porter has played brilliant basketball for the Warriors at times this postseason, but Game 4 wasn’t one of them. Golden State was minus-1 with him on the court, while Looney was best on the team plus-21.

Kerr didn’t reveal if Looney would return to the starting lineup for Game 5 on Monday night with the series returning to Chase Center, but that seems like an easy choice. But knowing that Kerr is ready to experiment this post-season, what may seem “obvious” may not be the direction he is heading in choosing his latest roster.

“It looks a little different this year,” Kerr said. “There was a little more mixing and matching. Really proud of the group, everyone, for staying ready and staying prepared and not allowing game-to-game changes and tweaks to bother them.

The curry is fine: Curry told reporters that his left foot injury suffered in the final minutes of Game 3 felt “good”. That didn’t seem to bother him too much in Game 4, as he scored a game-high 43 points and had 10 rebounds in 41 minutes to help the Warriors avoid falling to a 3-1 hole in the Finals.

Williams Status: Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is ‘optimistic’ about the availability of Robert Williams III for Game 5. The 24-year-old center twisted his knee in Game 4 and was asked out of the game, but finished with seven points, 12 rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes.

CJ Holmes covers the Warriors for The San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail: cj.holmes@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @CjHolmes22

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