Postseason series tend to morph over time as teams scheme, adjust and then re-adjust to fit the terms of engagement. Tell that to Beverley, who plays each night like the fate of civilization is hanging in the balance. The Thunder goes into Game 2 (Wednesday, 7 p.m.) knowing it has to find ways for Westbrook to get cooking offensively if it's to stand a chance in the series. The Rockets are supposed to be flawed defensively, but Patrick Beverley and Clint Capela were monsters, and all five Rockets on the floor were connected. His aggression on the offensive and defensive boards also stepped up as he managed to be more involved through all aspects of the game. At one time, maybe it was Wilson or maybe it was some other [expletive], Rock. "We've just got to figure it out".
Kerr rested players down the stretch as needed, he mixed Kevin Durant back in after a 19-game absence with a left knee injury.
Late in the second quarter Wade intercepted an errant pass by Thomas, but got hung on the front of the rim as he attempted a dunk on the fast break.
This was the series that drew so much of the national attention and so numerous headline due to the matchup of the two show ponies - Harden and Russell Westbrook - in the MVP race.
Thompson picked up the slack with Curry sidelined previous year against Portland, leading the Warriors in scoring in three of the five games - with 37 points, 27 and 33.
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Harden averaged 29.1 points (61.3 true shooting percentage), 8.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists this season, with his penchant for facilitating coming to the forefront frequently against the Thunder. The year before, when the Rockets made the Western Conference Finals, he was at home with a wrist injury, stewing over not being able to compete on the biggest stage. While we all were sure that Mr. Westbrook would have an awesome season leading the team, no one could have expected anyone averaging a triple double in the modern era of basketball. When Harden splashed the 3-pointer over Gibson's outstretched hand, Gibson punched at the air in disgust.
All in all, it is hard to compare two players who played 50 years apart.
The two-time reigning NBA MVP sprained the MCL in his right knee when he slipped on a wet spot just before halftime of a Game 4 win at Houston in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. Beverley, infamous for his aggressive style of defense, went for 21 points and 10 rebounds while hitting eight of his 13 shots (61.5%). Beverley sandwiched a floater and consecutive 3-pointers around three Harden free throws in the third quarter to extend the lead to 73-62. His 27 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals was impressive but not enough as the Rockets beat the Thunder 102-99.
Some things to know about the Thunder-Rockets series. "Tonight he made shots, he rebounded the ball at a high level, he's just Pat tonight".
At one point in the second quarter, Beverley dogged Westbrook from behind as he tried to bring the ball up the floor, sending the Thunder guard sprawling to the floor. Let's remember Oklahoma City's roster wasn't exactly bursting with talent this year, but the team will grow together, which could limit Westbrook's usage and his opportunities as well. The Rockets outscored OKC 31-4.