The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off a near-miracle to come back from 31 points down and beat the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on Monday night. The Clippers set an NBA record for the largest playoff comeback in history, and now, the series shifts to the City of Angels tied at one game apiece.
One major aspect of the Clippers’ approach to playing against the Warriors has been Patrick Beverley doing everything he can to antagonize Kevin Durant. In terms of numbers, the results have been mixed: Durant had 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting with two turnovers in 45 Game 1 possessions while he was guarded by Beverley. The strategy worked better in Game 2, with Durant scoring eight points on 2-for-3 shooting with four turnovers in the 39 possessions Beverley checked him.
It’s also led to Beverley getting under Durant’s skin. Durant has picked up a pair of technical fouls due to Beverley’s prodding and has looked openly annoyed on a few other occasions. To find out why this is working so well, Chris Vernon of Grind City Media spoke to one of the best antagonists in league history, Tony Allen, whose entire career was based on doing to dudes what Beverley is doing to Durant.
“If you look back at Dirk, remember Dirk?” Allen asked. “Seven foot guy, shoot over all those defenders. One thing that hurts those tall guys who can put it on the floor is crowded space. And that’s all Patrick Beverley is doing, is crowding the space, not letting him catch it, making it physical for him to catch, and when he get it, it’s a competition within, and I think Patrick Beverley’s winning that battle.”
Beverley has relished the opportunity to get into Durant’s chest, and he’s generally done what he’s set out to do through two games. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks the Clippers will win the series — although who knows after Monday night’s comeback — but the remainder of the matchup between those two will be fascinating to watch.