Shaun Livingston

Warriors brief: Shaun 'the stabilizing force' Livingston

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AP

Warriors brief: Shaun 'the stabilizing force' Livingston

As the regular season concluded and the Warriors were heading into the playoffs, the hottest name and topic of discussion was Quinn Cook. He had played exceptionally well in the absence of the Warriors stars, serving primarily as Steph Curry’s replacement.

To many it was an obvious assumption that Cook would insert himself into the starting lineup as the point guard for the first round of the playoffs as well. However, when Andre Iguodala surprisingly got the nod over Cook, the conversation changed to the Warriors’ desire to start a defensive unit and how the coaches would incorporate Cook into the bench rotations. Lost in all of this conversation was a forgotten man: Shaun Livingston.

This is the fourth season that Livingston served as Curry’s primary backup, until Cook’s late season flurry. While the quiet and stoic Livingston hasn’t received much fanfare over the years, his consistent play has been a “stabilizing force” in the Warriors second unit, as Steve Kerr referred to following their Game 4 loss. But where Livingston has excelled most in his brief but accomplished Warriors career is in the playoffs when Curry has been out.

Including the six games Curry missed in the 2015-16 playoffs and the four games missed so far this postseason, Livingston has averaged 11.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting, while adding 3.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds over 25 minutes. 

Livingston has scored in double digits in eight of the ten games, which in contrast, is the same number of games he scored in double figures over his last 71 regular season contests. As a member of the Warriors, Livingston has averaged 5.7 points over 18 minutes per game, on 52 percent shooting with 2.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds. 

Look for Livingston to be a stabilizing force in the Warriors lineup on Tuesday night as the team tries to advance to the second round to face a Pelicans team that is deep with very capable guards. Even with Curry’s eventual return, the Warriors will need Livingston’s length and ball handling skills to disrupt the Pelicans’ small ball attack.

But before the Warriors are able to turn their focus to New Orleans, you can expect Livingston to be as assertive and aggressive as ever trying to close out the series.

With health No. 1 concern, Warriors aiming high for sweep of Spurs

With health No. 1 concern, Warriors aiming high for sweep of Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- The Warriors now know that if they come into Game 4 Sunday with the same level of energy displayed so far in their first-round matchup against San Antonio, they’ll accomplish a series sweep.

They’re also starting to feel they might need to get a sweep.

They’ll be shorthanded again Sunday and could use the time to heal before the next round begins, as soon as next weekend. Five days to a week between games is as good as it gets.

With Stephen Curry out since March 23 -- and for at least another week -- the Warriors picked up two more aches in the final minutes of Game 3. Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston both rolled their left ankles and left the game.

An hour later, Durant was walking without a discernable limp. Livingston spent plenty time on the trainer’s table and was walking with a very discernable limp.

Livingston wouldn’t rule himself out of Game 4, saying he’ll take Friday off, receive some intense treatment, and then see how he felt prior to practice on Saturday. Based on the visual, he’ll be sitting. And should be sitting.

Curry’s status was updated Friday. He has been cleared for “modified” practice activity beginning Saturday and will be reevaluated next April 27.

Game 1 of the next round of the playoffs could be as early as April 28.

In the hours after the Warriors’ 110-97 victory in Game 3 on Thursday, Klay Thompson pointed out some of the advantages of advancing as quickly as possible.

“Limit our road travel, expand our time to rest and get our best guys healthy, like Steph, KD and Shaun,” he said.

The Warriors almost certainly will need their best selves to deal with their next opponent next weekend.

There are 16 teams in the NBA playoffs, and none has been more surprisingly spectacular than the Pelicans. Suffocating the Trail Blazers on one end and shooting them into submission on the other, New Orleans is up 3-0 and on the brink of advancing.

It was evident from the buzz in the postgame locker room that the Warriors are impressed with the No. 6 seed Pelicans’ demolition of third-seeded Portland.

A week into the postseason, only the Warriors’ net rating of 20.2 is better than New Orleans’ 11.3. The Warriors are second in offensive rating, the Pelicans fifth. The Warriors are third in defensive rating, the Pelicans fourth.

New Orleans is thriving because point guard Rajon Rondo is fully engaged, Anthony Davis is playing with gusto and combo guard Jrue Holiday is reminding folks how terrific he was before his career was temporarily rerouted by injuries to himself and a serious health scare to his wife, former soccer star Lauren Holiday (nee Chaney).

“People forget, but he was really good when we were teammates,” said Andre Iguodala, who spent three seasons with Holiday in Philadelphia. “He could score, he could pass and he always could defend. He can do pretty much anything on the basketball court.”

It’s not that the Warriors are looking past the Spurs. It’s that they expect to win the series and realize they’ll need to be better should they advance.

“We have been in a decent rhythm,” Draymond Green said, referring mostly to the offense. “There is still another level we can get to and I have no doubt in my mind that we will get to that level.

“But, as bad as we were playing (to close the regular season), to kind of get to where we are is pretty solid. It’s still the first round, so . . . if you can still win and not be clicking and peaking at that time, that’s great. And I don’t think we are. It has been solid. We’ve been able to find a decent rhythm, but there are some things that we can clean up on that side of the ball and we will.”

That level is most easily reached when all four All-Stars are in the starting lineup. That can’t happen until Durant is healed -- he says he’s fine -- and Curry returns and vets Andre Iguodala, David West and Livingston are in their customary roles.

The Warriors likely win Game 4 even if Livingston joins Curry in street clothes on Sunday. Game 4 of the Pelicans-Blazers series is set for Saturday in New Orleans. Wins this weekend or early next week would have Warriors-Pelicans tipping off in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on April 28 or 29.

As Thompson indicated, the Warriors would like as much time as possible to heal and prepare. The way the Pelicans have been rolling, they’re going to need it.

Warriors' veteran tag team made sure things stayed calm in Game 3 win vs Spurs

Warriors' veteran tag team made sure things stayed calm in Game 3 win vs Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- The Illinois Boys don’t do flash or dash. They don’t do much thrilling or spilling, either.

They do reliable.

Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston do smooth hoops. They are seasoned veterans that do what it takes to make the game easier for their teammates, and the Warriors are the beneficiaries.

Both were on their games Thursday night, providing the insulation within a 110-97 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of their first-round series.

While Kevin Durant was leading the team and scoring and rebounding, and Draymond Green was leading in assists and blocks, and Kevon Looney was leading in steals, Iguodala and Livington were leading forces in making sure things stayed tight and together.

“It’s kind of funny how we trade off,” said Iguodala, from Springfield, Ill.

“We flip and flop,” said Livingston, from Peoria.

Iguodala played 27 minutes and made 4-of-9 shots from the field, Livingston played 20 minutes and made 4-of-9 from the field.

They combined for 26 points, 16 for Livingston and 10 for Iguodala. They combined for seven rebound and five assists. Iguodala was plus-12, Livingston plus-7.

Most important, they combined for one turnover.

On a night when the death of Erin Popovich, the wife of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, was in the minds of all inside AT&T Center, the Warriors needed Iguodala and Livingston to be their usual steady selves.

“To have that veteran leadership in the locker room, I think it’s great,” Draymond Green said. “It was a perfect setup for a letdown . . . but we still wanted to come out and try to win the game. Having that veteran leadership to try to put that to the side, no matter what, knowing that they were going to come out on an emotional high.”

Green didn’t mention Iguodala or Livingston by name. He didn’t have to.

They are team leaders and calming influences in the locker room and on the court. And each does it quietly and without pomp.

Iguodala is 34, in his 14th season, drafted ninth overall in 2004 from the University of Arizona. Livingston is 32, in his 14th season, drafted fourth overall, out of Peoria Central High School.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, by design, wants one of them on the court at all times.

They swapped in the first quarter, Livingston for Iguodala. They swapped in the second quarter, Iguodala for Livingston. They swapped in the third, Livingston for Iguodala and again in the fourth, Iguodala for Livingston.

“We just let the game come to us,” Livingston said.

Maybe that’s why the work they do seems so smooth and almost quiet.