OAKLAND -- In every NBA series, there is always an x-factor. There is a player that can either make or break a series. For the Houston Rockets, that player isn’t Dwight Howard or James Harden, those two will get their numbers. For Houston, the man of hour is Patrick Beverley.
The rugged point guard out of the University of Arkansas plays with a grit that is lost in today’s NBA game. In a league filled with scoring point guards, Beverley is a throwback. He’s an old school, in your face kind of guard that gets into you from the moment the ball is tipped.
Beverley is taxed with slowing NBA-MVP Stephen Curry, a player that is completely changing the landscape of the game of basketball.
“I don’t think it’s a single individual, I think it’s a team effort,” Beverley told CSN Bay Area on Saturday before Game 1. “He’s making a lot of shots. I just want to give him a lot of hands and contest his jump shots.”
Curry finished the season as the league’s leading scorer averaging 30.1 points per game. He blew away his own record of 286 3-pointers set last season, dropping in 402 shots from behind the arc this year. His quickness and ball handling make him tough to guard and his ability to launch from anywhere on the court opens up everything for the Warriors.
“Our pick up point has to be high,” Beverley said of how he will approach the league’s best player. “I have to be aggressive and show him a lot of bodies and contain everything he shoots.”
Beverley will rely heavily on his teammates to slow Curry, but it all starts and ends with him. For much of the contest Beverley will pick Curry up in the backcourt and try to get the ball out of his hands. If you give Curry an inch, he’ll let it fly and Beverley knows that all too well.
“You have to pick him up on the other end,” Beverley said. “He’s proven to make shots at the end of the shot clock and at the end of the quarter from the other end.”
This is the matchup to watch. It’s more important than Harden vs. Klay Thompson or Howard vs. Andrew Bogut. If Beverley and the Rockets can slow Curry, the Warriors become slightly more beatable. If Curry gets loose, it’s game over for Houston.
“It won’t be an easy task, but it’s definitely going to be fun,” Beverley said.