Patrick Beverley's exit from Sunday's Game 4 directly coincided with the Rockets' total collapse against the Golden State Warriors, and now it appears he is in danger of missing Wednesday's Game 5 as well, with the Houston Chronicle reporting Bev is officially listed as day-to-day with a right hamstring injury.
CBS Sports is calling his availability "firmly up in the air."
Should Beverley miss Game 5, the Rockets' heart stays glued to the pine right along with him, and you can close the book on this most disappointing of seasons late Wednesday night/early Tuesday morning. Even with Steph Curry out, Bev's presence is essential to the emotional make up of this Houston squad.
The Rockets' ability to come out with intensity and attitude starts with Beverley's hard-nosed play at the point, and the infectious nature of his competitive temperament has a trickle-down effect on the entire squad. Bev is literally the only possible Rockets counter to the emotional leadership Draymond Green provides the Warriors.
It's often said about the most fiery and impassioned players, that the more an opposing team's fans dislike them, the more effective they are at their job. I recognize that phenomenon each and every time I yell at the screen, "Will someone please do something to shut him the hell up," when Green inevitably starts up his antics for Golden State.
Bev is that player for Houston. The guy that makes their skin crawl. The only guy with the ability to knock them off their game mentally. The guy they love to hate.
Sure, Beverley has struggled this series offensively, averaging just 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on 28.1 percent shooting. And after making his three-ball such a large part of the Houston offense in the regular season by shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc on the year, he's hit on just 3-11 against the Dubs.
He's part of a three-point implosion trifecta that sees Bev, James Harden and Trevor Ariza shooting a combined 17-66 from downtown in the series. It hasn't been pretty.
But the defense and the attitude has been cranked to 11. Beverley has a +1.8 defensive plus/minus for the series, which is a stark improvement over his regular season number -0.3. It's also important to note that playoff number's been achieved playing primarily either against the reigning MVP Curry or his backup in Shawn Livingston that has a full 6 inches on Beverley.
His ferocity and tenaciousness gives Houston it's edge, and it's no coincidence that Game 4 fell apart for the Rockets when Beverley headed to the locker room. You lose your edge, you lose the game.
Is there anyone else on this Houston squad that can step up to replace that? Coach J.B. Bickerstaff realizes that's the key to making it out of Game 5 with any season left to play, telling the Chron:
"Obviously, Pat brings that energy for us. We miss him when he's not on the floor. But the same way they did with Steph Curry out, was the same thing we needed to do. A guy goes down, we got to step up for our teammates."
Donatas Motiejunas, perhaps one of the biggest benefactors in his battles with Green of the contagious energy Bev provides, concurs that the Warriors have another level the Rockets just couldn't match without number 2.
"Pat is our main point guard, so of course we missed him. We knew it wasn't going to be easy no matter what. They just turned it up a notch and blew us away."
If Bev is unavailable, the Rockets are down to just Jason Terry and Andrew Goudelock at the point, and despite Curry's absence, Livingston, Ian Clark, and Leandro Barbosa will still likely have their way with either one, especially with Bickerstaff's reluctance to play K.J. McDaniels this series.
McDaniels' strength would be a good counter to Livingston's imposing size. He can't shoot a lick, but the Rockets haven't shot a lick all series anyway, might as well try to match up defensively.
Regardless of Bickerstaff's rotation decision, the Rockets will have a tough time without their emotional leader, especially on the road, in one of the toughest venues in the league to play. If Houston is to have any chance, they need Bev on the floor. They may have made a run without him last year, but if there's anything we learned this season, it's these are not last year's Rockets.
Despite the seemingly poor prognosis, Bickerstaff has yet to rule Beverley officially out, telling the Chron:
"Our training staff does a great job working with guys, so he will get treatment on the road again tomorrow two or three times, and we will see how he is on Wednesday. "
So it does appear Beverley still has a shot to play, and with Houston in "one game at a time mode", the Rockets will need all hands on deck if there's any hope of extending the year to Friday.