Shaun Livingston rising to occasion for Warriors

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Shaun Livingston hasn’t missed in the NBA Finals.

And because of him, the Warriors have barely missed a beat without Andre Iguodala.

Livingston’s value goes well beyond shot-making, but given his historically hot start, it’s a good place to start.

Livingston is 8-for-8 in the Finals. Since the NBA adopted a 16-team postseason in 1984, nobody has ever attempted more shots without a miss in the first two games of a Finals.

Nobody has even been close. Only Francisco Elson – 5-for-5 with the Spurs in 2007 – had been better than 3-for-3.

“He’s a guy who gets it,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said of Livingston. “He understands how to play.”

That basketball intelligence has particularly shined while sharing the court with the Warriors’ stars – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.

That fifth Golden State player was usually Iguodala. But since Iguodala got hurt in the Western Conference, Livingston has stepped up.

The Warriors have outscored opponents by 23.7 points per 100 possessions with Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Livingston on the court in the playoffs. That’s even better than the four stars plus Iguodala (+22.9 net rating).

Here’s how Golden State has fared with its four stars sharing the court, depending on fifth teammate. Offensive/defensive/net ratings are listed:

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Options for that role other than Iguodala – Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, JaVale McGee, Livingston and Nick Young – carry significant blemishes. Livingston’s is just the most manageable.

He’s a non-shooter from beyond the arc, but he’s a solid ball-handler and distributor. Though Livingston compromises spacing, he can’t be completely ignored on the perimeter (unlike Looney, Bell and McGee). Livingston will step into a mid-range jumper, make a timely cut to the rim, break down the defense with the ball and/or keep the opponent scrambled with a pass.

Livingston is not a lockdown defender, and he definitely doesn’t match Iguodala’s unique capability against LeBron James. But Livingston is totally fine on that end (unlike Young).

Iguodala will likely return soon, but Livingston’s contributions have already been felt in the Warriors reaching the Finals and taking a 2-0 lead.