OAKLAND – With the scintillating 73-win Warriors -- who spent the regular season destroying every significant challenge -- gone for at least two weeks, there now comes a change in both style and substance.
Shaun Livingston during that time will replace Steph Curry as the primary floor general, beginning Wednesday night at Oracle Arena with Game 5 of the first-round playoff series against Houston.
Though the two players could hardly be more different, circumstances dictate that Livingston make a few alterations, including expanding his shooting range.
Which in part explains why Livingston was practicing 3-pointers from both corners of the court Tuesday after practice. He occasionally does this, anyway, but now there is a very real, very tactical purpose.
“There might be some more opportunities,” Livingston said slyly. “With the playoffs, it’s all about the game plan. Everybody knows my game. So it’s maybe an adjustment if the opportunity to presents itself, which I’m sure it will, to take a few.”
Livingston’s shooting game is to use his height, 6-foot-7, to shoot over smaller defenders, generally between 10 and 15 feet away from the rim. He most definitely is not a Splash Brother or Splash Cousin or even a Splash stepchild.
The Warriors would like Livingston to take a few more chances beyond the arc. Coach Steve Kerr encourages it and Luke Walton during his interim stint from October to January joking about fining Livingston if he passed up open treys.
For Livingston, well, the 3-ball continues to be a work in progress.
“I’ve always been around the same comfort level – which is not comfortable – because I haven’t shot them,” Livingston conceded. “I’ve stuck to my bread and butter. It just depends on the moment and the game.”
Livingston’s “bread and butter” shot is the post-up from midrange, either side of the basket or just inside the free throw line. His overall shooting percentage this season, 53.6, is the highest on the team among perimeter players.
Shooting preferences are only the beginning of the differences between Curry and Livingston.
Curry wants to play as much as possible but can’t because his body occasionally won’t let him.
Livingston can’t play every game but won’t, because his body and his coaches never stop reminding him that it’s simply not possible.
Curry was drafted by the Warriors in 2009 and has spent his entire seven-year career with them.
Livingston was drafted by the Clippers in 2004 and his spent his 12-year career with nine different teams.
While Curry is a 6-foot-3 scoring machine, a one-man high-wire act and the most dangerous long-distance shooter in NBA history, Livingston is an angular study in patience, a squad stabilizer with who relies on that steady mid-range jumper.
Curry is jazz, improvising by feel. Livingston is classical, stately and tightly arranged.
Suffice it to say he won’t be impersonating Curry, which means opponents also will have to make some adjustments.