In game one of the NBA Finals, the defending champion Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in relatively comfortable fashion. Leading almost the whole way throughout the game, the Warriors led by as many as 20 points, and ultimately won by 15. And they did so with unanimous MVP Steph Curry far from his best, recording only 22 minutes and 11 points on 4-15 shooting, with a +/- rating of a compact 0.
The Warriors won this game with their depth, and specifically the depth behind Curry. Backup point guard Shaun Livingston scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting, while backup shooting guard Leandro Barbosa made all five of his shots in scoring 11 points. That is 31 points on 15 possessions from two players who normally contribute 12 on 10. There is a reason Steph only played half the game.
This is not to say that the duo did this entirely unexpectedly. Barbosa has long been a scoring super-sub, winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2007, and Livingston has been a fine NBA player for the last five years or so since finally finding his health and his niche in this league. They are key rotation players on a historical great because they are good at what they do, so it should not be news when they are good.