OAKLAND -- Andre Iguodala might be back in action Tuesday night after a 13-game injury absence, and the upshot of that is that the Warriors managed to go 11-2 without him.
There are a lot of reasons for that, but many of them point to backup point guard Shaun Livingston, who not only has been particularly strong performing his own usual role but also while taking on some of Iguodala's responsibilities. He has been the primary stabilizer of the second unit as well as a key defender and role player with the starting group when the Warriors go small.
As with Iguodala, Livingston's significance isn't always reflected statistically. He does have that dependable post-up fadeaway jumper, and at 6-foot-7, he's an excellent rebounding guard who also can defend multiple positions.
Perhaps his strongest suit, though, is delivering what's needed for the situation, much like Iguodala, and he does it with such calm authority that it almost always has a positive influence on the group with which he's playing. Need a number? He does not have a negative plus-minus game in the 12 he has played in Iguodala's absence, and cumulatively during those dozen, he's plus-112.
"We altered our rotation a little bit when Andre went down and tried to bring Shaun in a little bit earlier," coach Steve Kerr after the win over Portland on Sunday. "And he's been fantastic. He's such a good player, and he's so smart. He's really helped carry the second group in Andre's absence."
Livingston is almost always steady, but has he made a conscious effort to take it up a notch with Iguodala sidelined and be the team's rudder while on the floor?
"Definitely," he said. "When I'm running the second unit or I'm in there to close a half or close a game, I'm making sure we're taking good shots, know what we're running, keeping up the communication, trying to get us to pay attention to detail defensively -- just all the little things that lead up to wins."
Without Iguodala, starters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have had to take on more minutes, but the increase hasn't been as crazy as it might have been had Livingston not stemmed a lot of the tide.
"The rotations have definitely changed since Dre's been out," Curry said. "Shaun's the primary playmaker, a guy that can push the tempo if we get a rebound and make a play. He can get a bucket for you on any possession in that post area. It just shows how versatile he is, and he's been ready for that expanded role since Dre went out."
So is Livingston too unsung?
"I don't know how much coverage and spotlight he's gotten, but definitely in our locker room, everybody knows how important he is to what we do," Curry said. "The last two years, the impact he's made shoring up that second lineup, and then when you think about it, in the Finals, he was in that closing lineup pretty much every game. He was huge, just a veteran presence who doesn't make mistakes and usually impacts the game in a positive way."
From Livingston's view, he's already thinking about the playoffs and wanting the team to get in the kind of mental condition that it will take to repeat as NBA champions.
With that in mind, he thinks the Boston loss at home may have been a good thing.
"Being able to take the positives out of the losses like that, they can help you reshuffle the deck, retool and kind of filter out what you need to do to improve," he said. "Now it should be every day, locking in, building habits, so once we come to the playoffs, it's not like we have a long way to go. It'll be let's turn it on, let's turn it up."
"I promise you if I get to 399 and I know it, I will chuck," he said. "That's the only thing I can guarantee."