The best player for the Houston Rockets in Game 1 against the Thunder didn't have a beard or a chic catchphrase that encapsulates his meteoric rise.
But what Patrick Beverley did have was a Band-Aid, a two-inch bandage that stretched above his left eye and symbolically told the story of what the backup point guard is all about.
In his playoff debut, Beverley introduced himself to Oklahoma City on Sunday night. For Beverley, it was a statement game, and the Thunder heard his message loud and clear.
“I think it's apparent that he only knows one way to play the game,” said Thunder guard Derek Fisher. “That's to go hard, to play hard, to play with aggression and confidence. He impacted the game (Sunday) night.”
Beverley came off the bench and scored 11 points with four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 28 minutes. He made two of Houston's eight 3-pointers, provided some pesky defense against Thunder point guards Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson (stripping both once) and thoroughly outplayed Rockets starting point guard Jeremy Lin, who looked like anything but the sensation that came to be known as “Linsanity.”
You could even argue Beverley was more effective at both ends than James Harden.
“After (we got) off to a good start,” Fisher said, “I thought his minutes in that first half allowed them to keep the game competitive. So I think he'll be a guy that we have to key on Wednesday night, to try and do a better job of slowing down his penetration. He's a good player, and we have to view him as that. He's made us aware, and we have to be ready for that Wednesday.”