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Houston Rockets: Patrick Beverley’s Great Defense on Westbrook

Jan 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles against Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) at Toyota Center. Houston Rockets won 118 to 116 .Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dribbles against Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) at Toyota Center. Houston Rockets won 118 to 116 .Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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Throughout the series between the Houston Rockets and OKC Thunder, Patrick Beverley played excellent defense on Russell Westbrook. His tenacity was one of the reasons his team won despite their shooting struggles.

Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook have had a feud going since 2013, when Bev went for a controversial steal that led to Russ’s torn meniscus. Understandably, their five-game battle during the first round created several heated moments between them as they viciously went at each other. Things culminated on Tuesday night during the Houston Rockets’ final win over the Thunder.

About halfway through the fourth quarter, Bev and Russ got into it with some good, old fashioned trash talk. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t end in blows. Instead, the refs handed out a double-technical and the game went on.

At least we got another priceless Russell Westbrook vs. Patrick Beverley interaction out of that brutal series. pic.twitter.com/49Sf3NUExX

— Ross Bolen (@WRBolen) April 26, 2017

Later, when asked about the confrontation, Westbrook claimed that Beverley was “dreaming” if he thought he’d be First Team All-Defense this season. He noted that he had 42 points at the time, implying that he couldn’t be guarded. Beverley reported a similar story, making sure everyone knew, however, that it took 34 shots for Russ to get there. The interaction will make for some excellent drama next season. For now, though, let’s look at whether or not Pat was right with his claims of defending Russ well.

Patrick Beverley was tasked with guarding Westbrook nearly every trip down the court over the five games. If his ultimate goal was to stop Westbrook from filling up the stat sheet, he failed. The Brodie averaged a triple-double on the series, scoring as many as 51 points in one game. Nobody in the world is a good enough defender to stop him from getting points on the board. So no, stopping him from scoring wasn’t Pat’s objective.

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Instead, it was to limit Russ’s easy shots and make him work hard for every bucket, and he succeeded valiantly. The presumed MVP‘s per game averages didn’t dip during the playoffs, but his efficiency was astoundingly low throughout. He posted an eFG% of 43.1%, 150th of 202 active players in the postseason.

For him to average so many points against the Rockets with Bev on him, Russ had to shoot a lot of shots. He averaged 30 attempts per game, seven more than the next player on the list for the postseason.

Some might argue that Westbrook’s poor shooting was just a coincidence or due to the playoff atmosphere, giving Beverley no credit. However, a closer look reveals otherwise. Notice how poorly Russ shot with Pat on him, and how much more likely he was to turn the ball over.

Russell Westbrook shot 37 FG% on 29.5 FGA per game this series. A big reason why? Pat Beverley held him to 25.9 FG%. (via @ESPNStatsInfo) pic.twitter.com/a4j4RTVeMn

— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) April 26, 2017

This is just scratching the surface of analyzing Beverley’s great defense on Westbrook, but it’s clear that Mr. 94 Feet was instrumental in the Houston Rockets’ first round gentleman’s sweep. Russ scored, but he had to try so hard to do it that it was rendered ineffective.

Next: Houston Bench Outplayed OKC's at Every Turn

Patrick Beverley plays with such intensity that he’s probably more thankful than anyone about the six days off between rounds one and two. Let’s hope he’s well-rested and ready to go by Monday to hound the next point guard for an entire series.

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