The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City were battling into the third quarter of Game 1 when Steven Adams set one of the most bone-rattling screens you’ll ever see. Patrick Beverley went down so hard that you legitimately didn’t know if he was going to get up. But he did. And he might have passed concussion tests, but he was absolutely unconscious for the rest of the game.
As Beverley scrambled to his feet like he was playing a starring role in the next Rocky movie, Andre Roberson splashed home a 3-point shot to cut the Rockets’ lead to two. There was a game at hand!
But P-Bev had other ideas.
He took the game over. The two leading candidates for MVP were on the court, but from that point on, Patrick Beverley was the star. In just 6:30 of playing time, Beverley had 10 points, two rebounds and two assists.
He started off by going on a personal six-point run thanks to a pair of threes in 32 seconds , which included this make and fantastic celebration:
There was also this beautiful alley-oop to Clint Capela:
Defensively, Beverley shut down the presumptive MVP as much as anyone could hope for, both before and after the screen.
Per SynergySportsTech.com, Beverley was the primary defender on 13 plays. He guarded Westbrook on 11 of those, and Russ scored just eight points on three makes in those 11 possessions. He missed five shots and had three turnovers.
Overall, Westbrook used 35 possessions to score 22 points. That possession-to-point differential of -13 was the worst of anyone in the first round.
In other words, Beverley forced the player many believe will win the MVP award to have the least valuable performance of any player in the opening round of the playoffs.
One of those was a steal and breakaway dunk:
Incredibly, Westbrook only got to the rim six times all game, and just twice while Beverley was defending him. And Westbrook didn’t make either of those shots. The Thunder’s offensive rating on plays guarded by Beverley was a meager 66.7.
Dwyane Wade once told me in an interview that the best thing a defender can do is take you out of your game. And that’s exactly what Beverley did to Westbrook. After a while, the Thunder superstar just gave up on trying to get past Beverley, and we saw a lot more of this:
When it was over, Westbrook had 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to Beverley’s 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. From a raw stats standpoint, you could say that Westbrook won the positional battle.
But efficiency matters. In contrast to Westbrook’s inefficiency, Beverley had the fifth-most efficient performance (1.312 points per possession) of the 24 players who tallied 20 points in their opening playoff game. There’s not much debating that Beverley outdueled Westbrook.
The reality is that the Thunder are going to be in trouble when Harden does better than Westbrook (Harden’s 37 points, nine assists and seven rebounds with 1.088 points per possession attest he did), but the Thunder are certainly doomed if Beverley is also going to be better than Russ.
From a purely statistical standpoint, there are four games in Beverley’s career where he notched a higher Game Score:
But when you factor in that this was a playoff game and that Beverley was guarding the man who might win MVP, it’s hard to deny that this was the Rockets’ most-pernicious player’s greatest game ever.