Warriors

Kerr makes history as Warriors clinch fourth straight Pacific Division title

Kerr makes history as Warriors clinch fourth straight Pacific Division title

It was only a matter of time, but the Warriors are the champs of the Pacific Division for the fourth straight season.

And yet again, they can thank the Rockets for helping out, as Houston beat the Clippers 101-96 on Thursday night, eliminating Los Angeles from division contention.

On Monday, the Rockets beat the Spurs, allowing the Warriors to clinch a playoff spot.

The 2017-18 division title is the Warriors' sixth overall since the NBA went to this current format, tying the Suns for 2nd-most. The Lakers own 23 Pacific Division titles.

The accomplishment was notable for Steve Kerr as the Warriors head coach joins Pat Riley as they only head coaches to win division titles in their first four seasons.

The Warriors, at 52-16, currently sit in 2nd place in the Western Conference behind the Rockets. Golden State has been had the best record in the NBA each of the last three seasons.

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.

Steve Kerr takes blame, 'should have broken a clipboard' after early Game 4 turnovers

Steve Kerr takes blame, 'should have broken a clipboard' after early Game 4 turnovers

In Game 4 vs the Spurs, the Warriors committed their seventh turnover with 7:31 remaining...

... in the first quarter.

After practice on Monday, Steve Kerr talked about the loss in San Antonio.

[PODCAST: Player-by-player breakdown of Game 4 loss at Spurs]

"Lack of focus to start the game was really the key," Kerr told reporters. "More than energy, it was a sense of purpose. And I take a lot of the blame for that. I should know better as a coach of a team that's been up 3-0 plenty times, you gotta know you're going into the lion's den...

"It just felt like kind of a regular-season approach on a back-to-back instead of a closeout playoff game. I thought our guys played hard for the most part during the game, but not in a smart fashion. I don't think we played mindfully and that's gotta change."

Despite trailing by as many as 17 points late in the first half, the Warriors battled back.

It was a two-point game with a little less than six minutes remaining, but the Spurs simply made more plays down the stretch.

As for the first few minutes of the game:

"I could tell right away -- looking back at the tape I should have taken a timeout three minutes into the game and broken a clipboard (laughter)" Kerr said ."More than that I should have had them prepared pregame for what was coming and I didn't feel like I did a good job at that.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller