OAKLAND – It is troubling that the two most disappointing postseason home losses for the Warriors since the 2016 NBA Finals have come in the first-round series against the Clippers that moves to Game 6 on Friday in Los Angeles.
And no single player was more responsible for those losses – or the tone of this series – than Patrick Beverley, the firebrand 6-foot-1 guard who takes the court with the attitude of Godzilla.
He pestered Kevin Durant into nine turnovers and an ejection in Game 2, which LA won.
Beverley came out for Game 5 on Wednesday, on the road, with the Clippers facing elimination, and immediately went after the Warriors with a searing intensity they failed to match.
Another LA win, extending the series, with Beverley reportedly telling Oracle Arena clubhouse attendants that he’ll see them Sunday for Game 7. Yes, he’s predicting a Game 6 victory.
“You’ve got to know what you’re up against when you play against Beverley,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday. “He’s a competitor. That’s how he’s made his money in this league. That’s how he’s been able to stick around. He competes and makes you uncomfortable and he scraps and goes after loose balls.
“I love that guy. He’s a hell of a competitor. He’s a hell of a player. Every coach would like to have a guy like him on their team.”
Beverley in the first quarter of Game 5 grabbed two offensive rebounds – ignoring several Warriors in the vicinity each time – with both leading the second-chance buckets for LA. Rebounding is about tenacity, first and foremost, and he grabbed a game-high 14 – more than Draymond Green and Kevin Durant combined.
“It really set the tone early for the way that we wanted to (Game 5) to go energy-wise,” Lou Williams said.
“When you look at this game, at the end of the game, he was matched up with (forwards and centers) under the basket and he kept coming out with the rebound,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of Beverley. “It just tells you how tough he is. He’s a tough dude.”
Game 1 belonged to Stephen Curry. Game 2 belonged to Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Beverley. Game 3 belonged to Kevin Durant. Game 4 belonged to Klay Thompson and Durant.
Game 5 belonged to Beverley (17 points and four assists, along with 14 rebounds) and Williams (33 points, 10 assists, five turnovers).
But no single player has had more of an effect for this series being extended beyond the projections than Beverley, LA’s emotional leader. He believes, and his teammates follow.
If the Warriors can’t find a way to marginalize Beverley’s contributions in Game 6, they might find themselves looking at a Game 7 on Sunday.