The Key to False Perfection Devised by Kevon Looney to Exile Robert Williams

BOSTON – Throughout the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Warriors center Kevin Looney has seen his fair share of strong, skilled big men. There was MVP Nikola Jokic back-to-back in the first round against the Denver Nuggets. The Memphis Grizzlies’ trio of Garen Jackson Jr., Stephen Adams and Brandon Clark were next in the second round before facing the Dallas Mavericks, built more around Luka Doncic and a handful of bowlers, in the Western Conference Finals.

In the NBA Finals, Looney will face perhaps his most distinguished rival to date in Boston Celtics center Robert Williams, alongside Al Horford. But Williams has been the ultimate team-maker against the Warriors at times, both in the regular season and during the first two games of the Finals.

He’s a lethal blocker, and an elite defender who can protect the paint and keep 3 throws away.

“Playing against Robert was really cool,” Looney said Wednesday during the Warriors’ pre-match 3 shootout at TD Garden. “I’ve played a lot of good big guys, and a lot of them were different. He might be the most athletic of the group I’ve played against. Probably the best blocker I’ve made against so far. He and Garen Jackson are both elite at it.”

“He’s a guy you have to wear a body, because if you go up he’s going to throw it and he’s going to throw it. It was great to play against, and it was hard to get used to being athletic in blocking his shot.”

In the Celtics’ win in the first game, Williams blocked four shots, the same number of blocks he had when he blew Boston Golden State at Chase Center during the regular game in March. That number was halved during the Warriors’ 19-point Game 2 win Sunday night in San Francisco. Of Williams’ six blocks so far, none have been on his counterpart.

The only time Looney’s shot has been blocked so far is once from guard Jaylen Brown at the opening of the series.

What’s his secret to avoid hitting his shot away from the 6-foot-8, 7-foot-6, 6-winged Williams? Pump art is fake.

Looney might be the best at it not just for the Warriors, but for the entire NBA. To say the least, it’s near the top of the list. It calculates them perfectly, which results in two points or an error the majority of the time. It’s a skill he had to learn at a young age, and the veteran puts to work to hone his craft.

“For me, a fake pump is something I had to learn very early on in my life, because I’m not the most athletic of men,” Looney said. “Something I always try to work on, sell it. I’m slow, and the slower the pump fakes, usually the better.”

“So I guess that’s the method I use to my advantage.”

Over 21 minutes, Looney scored 12 points, his second highest post-season total. He was a perfect 6-6 from the field and added seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block. The Trusted Master of Warriors was the highest level in the game as well as 24.

Williams lost only two points, two rebounds and two blocks. It was -6, his worst plus-minus in four games against the Warriors this season.

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Encouraged by Steph Curry and Draymond Green, Looney was once again included in the starting lineup for Game 6 of the Western Conference semi-finals to match up with the Memphis striker. He has 22 rebounds, and Kerr hasn’t changed his starting lineup since.

The 29-year-old is a two-time champion looking to add a third ring to his collection. His influence has never been more felt, and his role has never been greater. He now has six games in this post-season where he’s been perfect from the field, shooting 67.1 percent from the field – one fake pump at a time.

It was clear what The X Factor Williams would go for in the series. Looney has repeatedly surprised countless strangers this season, and his mix of perseverance essentials and textbooks may be the eraser to slow the Time Lord.

His influence on the Warriors’ success is clear, as is the impeccable pump.

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