Livingston puts lasting mark on career with Game 1 splash

Updated: June 3, 2016

With Splash Brothers struggling, Warriors’ veteran backup point guard ignites Golden State to 104-89 win in Finals opener

— Shaun Livingston cannot be a Splash Brother.

He doesn’t splash. He ripples, with a comparatively quiet role as a reserve in the back court of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, hitting mid-range shots and forcing defenses into mismatches as a 6-foot-7 point guard posting up while the two starters snap the nets with storms of 3-pointers, living on as a 30-year-old basketball survivor in contrast to the young Warriors All-Stars still rising.

But then comes nights like Thursday, in Game 1 of The Finals, when it’s a Livingston world for important stretches, and water is flying everywhere, no matter how the DNA tests come back.

It is not just the precision work against the Cavaliers inside Oracle Arena — eight baskets in 10 attempts, not one with the dramatic effect of being launched from behind the arc, plus three assists without a turnover — either. Livingston’s dunk in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Thunder, spotting the defense parting in front of him late in the third quarter to bolt down the lane and attack the rim for the score that became an emotional spark to eventual victory, could turn out to be one of the critical Golden State plays of the entire season. Then, three nights later, in the same raucous building, he followed with a steady overall performance that helped deliver the 104-89 victory over the Cavaliers as Curry went 4-for-15 from the field and Thompson was 4-for-12.

LeBron James said afterward, “Obviously the game ball goes to Shaun Livingston. Came in, gave them a huge spark.” That he did. It’s more than that, though.