OAKLAND — Just watching DeMarcus Cousins struggle to defend in space, or the fact that Andrew Bogut — picked up by Golden State after his Australian basketball season ended — had to play more than 21 minutes in Game 3, shows just how much the Warriors miss Kevon Looney.
They miss his athleticism, his defense, his rebounding a lot more than most fans realize.
Which is why it’s a huge deal that he is going to try and play in Game 4 on Friday night, something Steve Kerr confirmed less than two hours before tip-off.
“Kevon’s going to give it a go tonight,” Kerr said. “So further evaluation, a second opinion, and then a lot of research and making sure that there’s no long-term risk involved with him playing. And it all checked out, and he’s dying to play, and so we’ll give him a shot and we’ll see what he’s got.”
If the injury cannot get worse, it becomes a matter of pain management on some level.
“The guy’s just tough. He’s tough and he wants to play,” Kerr said. “And the injury is in an area where it allows him to move well enough to give it a shot to play.”
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported earlier in the day Looney was pushing to get back on the court.
Looney was injured in the first quarter of Game 2 when he bounced off Kawhi Leonard and went flying.
“He’s a really good defensive player,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I mean, first of all, he’s just a good player, but he’s a problem defensively because he can switch and guard just about anybody out there. And that’s a big-time luxury. That takes you out of — that keeps people in front. That takes you out of having to play weak side on the roller, right, and tagging and rotating and X’ing out and all those things that we — terminology we have to cover screen and roll defense. He’s a good rebounder, and he’s capable on offense to face up and knock one down or keep balls alive and get an offensive rebound.”
Down 2-1 heading into a virtual must-win on Friday night, if Looney can give the Warriors even 15 good minutes they will take it. The Warriors know they are in a tough series and they need all hands on deck.