Warriors

Steve Kerr explains how Alfonzo McKinnie exploits rebounding loophole

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AP

Steve Kerr explains how Alfonzo McKinnie exploits rebounding loophole

Alfonzo McKinnie is a really, really good rebounder.

One could even use the word "elite" when discussing that aspect of his game.

Per 36 minutes, McKinnie is averaging nine boards per contest -- good for second on the Warriors behind Kevon Looney (10.2).

"He's a tremdenous athlete. He's got good length and great leaping ability," Steve Kerr said Wednesday night on 95.7 The Game. "And he just has a knack for the ball, particularly on the offensive glass."

But is there something else that gives McKinnie an edge on the glass? Is there some secret sauce?

"He happens to be playing in an era, frankly, where nobody boxes out," Kerr explained. "Shot goes up -- and in every game that I watch on League Pass, our own games -- shot goes up and all the eyes just go up to the ball and follow the ball and nobody turns and boxes out.

"Alfonzo does a great job of just finding those seams and running right past people and going up and getting rebounds, getting us extra possessions."

Arguably the main reason McKinnie earned a roster spot with Golden State was because he did things like this during the exhibition season:

And here are some examples of McKinnie wreaking havoc on the offensive glass throughout the regular season:

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There will be playoff games in which McKinnie doesn't play a minute. And there will probably be some playoff games in which McKinnie outworks the opponent and grabs some huge rebounds in key moments.

"He's been a great, great story for us," Kerr said. "A great kid, wonderful to coach and getting better too. I couldn't be happier for him."

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Why Raptors are better matchup for Warriors in NBA Finals than Bucks

Why Raptors are better matchup for Warriors in NBA Finals than Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Kawhi Leonard?

Khris Middleton, or Pascal Siakam?

Brook Lopez, or Marc Gasol?

Eric Bledsoe, or Kyle Lowry?

The Warriors know they will face either the Bucks or Raptors for the 2019 NBA Championship, but as for which team presents the tougher matchup, it's a toss-up.

Just look at the current state of the Eastern Conference finals. Milwaukee looked absolutely dominant, winning the first two games at home before the script flipped entirely in Games 3 and 4 in Toronto.

The result? A series that is now tied at two games apiece. The Bucks and Raptors appear quite evenly matched, and it's anyone's guess as to who will ultimately prevail out of the East.

In making quick work of the Blazers in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors left themselves plenty of time to rest up before the Finals begin. They'll have more than a week in between games, offering adequate time to ponder questions such as: which opponent would be a better matchup for Golden State?

While the margin between the two teams is razor-thin, there's reason to believe the Warriors would match up slightly better with the Raptors than they would the Bucks.

There were only two teams in the league that ranked in the top five in both offensive and defensive rating during the regular season: The Bucks and Raptors. Milwaukee ranked marginally better than Toronto in both categories, and they've maintained their close correlation into the playoffs, where the Bucks and Raptors rank first and second, respectively, in defensive rating.

The Bucks, however, are averaging 111.2 points per 100 possessions during postseason play -- fourth among all playoff teams -- compared to 107.5 for the Raptors, which ranks ninth.

Still, those playoff numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt, as they've been accrued against different opponents. The Bucks finished with the best record in the league during the regular season, so they had a somewhat easier path to the Eastern Conference finals than the Raptors did.

Milwaukee swept Detroit in the first round, and then after a brief hiccup in Game 1 against the Celtics, finished off Boston in five games. Meanwhile, Toronto dropped their very first game of the playoffs to the Magic before eliminating Orlando in five games, and then only narrowly advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after perhaps the most dramatic game-winning shot in NBA playoff history in Game 7 against Philadelphia.

As such, the Raptors played three more games than the Bucks on their way to the conference finals, and are guaranteed to have played at least two more playoff games than Golden State should they meet in the Finals.

So, the Warriors would have a slightly larger collective "load" advantage against the Raptors than they would against the Bucks, but again, it's minimal. That said, the fact that Golden State will have nine days of rest before the Finals begin -- while the Eastern Conference representative could have as few as two, -- could exacerbate the Dubs' advantage.

[RELATED: Raptors tying series with Bucks furthers Dubs' advantage]

Both teams excel on both ends of the court. Both are led by legitimate MVP candidates, two of the very best talents the game has to offer. Both finished with better regular-season records than the Warriors, so both would have homecourt advantage over Golden State.

So why the Raptors?

As we know, rotations shorten in the playoffs and typically more so the deeper in postseason play. The Warriors had the luxury of extending their rotation against the inferior Blazers, but that won't be the same case against either the Bucks or Raptors.
And the Bucks' shortened rotation appears slightly more threatening to Golden State than the Raptors'.

Milwaukee likely would trot out a nine-man main rotation for the Finals, whereas it might be difficult for Toronto to find that many playable guys in a series against Golden State. Of those nine Bucks players, more than half of them shot better than 35 percent from 3-point range. The Raptors have only four such players on their entire roster.

Two of the Bucks players that fell short of that 35-percent plateau are Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe, who -- aside from being extremely proficient interior scorers -- were both named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday. Leonard was the Raptors' sole representative on either of the all-defensive teams, joining Golden State's Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the Second Team.

It's not a big difference, but at this point in the postseason, that makes plenty of sense. The best teams are supposed to advance, and clearly, they have. Whichever team comes out of the East will certainly pose more problems for Golden State than the Blazers did. The Raptors might be a slightly better matchup for the Warriors, but if you think the Dubs are going to waltz to their third consecutive league title, you're kidding yourself.

Ja Morant, top NBA draft prospect, chooses Kevin Durant over LeBron James

Ja Morant, top NBA draft prospect, chooses Kevin Durant over LeBron James

Ja Morant soon will know his first NBA team, but he can't exactly pick his teammates. 

The Murray State guard is considered one of the best prospects in the 2019 NBA Draft. He'll likely be a top three pick come June 20, with many pegging him to the Grizzlies at No. 2 overall.

If he could choose his ultimate starting five, though, he'd only have one Warrior. 

"Whew, it's a tough decision for the 3. I don't know if I'd pick KD or Bron," Morant said on the latest episode of Take it There with Taylor Rooks. "Probably KD. Because Bron, but I feel like I can be that facilitator for this team." 

[RELATED: KD continues feud with Broussard]

Morant rounded out his lineup with himself as the point guard, Paul George at shooting guard, Giannis Antetokounmpo at power forward, and Anthony Davis at center.

Morant averaged 24.5 points, 10 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore this season for Murray State.