Patrick Beverley should be on bedrest for the rest of the week, if he actually felt pain.
That’s the outcome an average human would have after being flattened by a Steven Adams screen early in the third quarter of Game 1 against the Thunder. Beverley might have been better off running head-first into the Great Wall of China than abruptly being introduced to Adams’ shoulder, which is something that usually causes casualties.
Instead, Beverley popped back up, stayed in the game, and knocked down back-to-back three-pointers just a few minutes later. He subbed back into the game in the fourth quarter and scored again, capping his career-best playoff performance of 21 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists in a 118-87 win.
Recast The Revenant, and put Beverley in Leonardo DiCaprio’s place. He survived this ...
... and three minutes later, was doing this.
Those two plays perfectly sum up Patrick Beverley.
Beverley’s job is to be the Rockets’ antagonist, and he plays it on and off the court. You can tell he enjoys being the guy who will challenge anyone about anything, whether that’s an opposing point guard or a media member in a postgame interview.
When I spent time with the Rockets back in March, I witnessed this exchange between him and a reporter when asked about how to “look at” a couple consecutive losses.
“How do you look at them?” Beverley replied.
“I’m asking you,” said the reporter, clearly taken off guard.
“How you look at them, I’m asking you now.”
“I thought you guys competed well.”
“There you go!” Beverley finally replied. “That’s your answer brother. It ain’t chess. It’s checkers, man. Whatever you see is the way the game’s going.”
Beverley isn’t always picking fights, of course. After all, he earnestly invited me to chapel during that same trip. But if you challenge Beverley, he will respond in kind.
On Sunday, the mere presence of Russell Westbrook was a challenge — and Beverley responded in kind.
The reason Beverley got rocked on that Adams screen is because he picked up Westbrook full-court. He stopped doing that after being slammed by the pick, but his defense didn’t let up. Westbrook finished the evening with 22 points on 6-of-23 shooting and nine turnovers, a miserable performance that Beverley definitely helped make happen.
Houston’s offense ticks along because of James Harden’s brilliance, surrounded by prolific three-point shooters. But on the other end, Beverley leads the charge.
There’s only so much impact a point guard can have defensively, but don’t underestimate the tone that Beverley sets. Remember, this is a man who skipped the draft and instead went overseas to play professionally in Ukraine, where he thrived. He only returned stateside four years later on a minimum contract.
Houston was expected to be a bottom-10 defense, and when Beverley missed the first three weeks of the regular season, they were. Once he returned on Nov. 17, the Rockets finished the year at No. 14 in defensive rating.
Beverley and Westbrook have prior history, so this won’t be the last we hear from those two in this series. Westbrook shares some of those fire-breathing, snarl-in-your-face characteristics, and when you pit those similarities together, you get sparks. That happened several seasons ago, when Beverley inadvertently injured Westbrook when trying to steal the ball when a timeout was about to be called.
The two teams are back at it again in this first-round series, and while Houston and Beverley earned the clear win in Game 1, there’s at least three more times going head to head before we’re clear of these two. Don’t worry — they’re both up for it.
Beverley certainly isn’t going to dream of backing down, no matter how many Steven Adams screens are thrown at him.