The Houston Rockets inserted Patrick Beverley into the starting lineup for Game 2 of their first round playoff matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring some much needed grit that the Rockets lacked in Game 1.
But who new this one little lineup change would have such a big impact on the future of the NBA Playoffs?
With 5:34 left in the second quarter, a whistle blew for a timeout.
As Thunder guard Russell Westbrook pulled up to stop play, Beverley dove in and took a swipe at the ball, spinning Westbrook to the ground.
Westbrook got up in obvious pain, hobbled to the scoring desk and smacked it with his right hand.
Right then, Westbrook knew something was wrong.
And now, so do we.
We can’t be certain this play was the cause, but what we do know is that Westbrook is done for the season after having surgery Saturday.
“Our team is disappointed for Russell,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a news conference at the Thunder practice facilities in Oklahoma City on Friday.
So are Thunder fans and NBA fans in general. The electric point guard is a huge piece of one of the NBA’s top teams and his loss is a major blow to Oklahoma City.
Beverley is already receiving threats on Twitter for the incident. The video does not show anything too malicious, but some people are quick to point blame on social media, and Beverley is now squarely in their crosshairs.
As the video shows, the tensions between Westbrook and Beverley escalated later. Westbrook stayed in the game after the first incident and was fouled by Beverley at the 4:04 mark of the same quarter, tumbling to the ground. He then slapped Beverley’s hand away when the Rockets guard tried to offer help.
“A lot of people do it throughout the league. I don’t go out to try and hurt anybody. I tried to make a play on the ball,” Beverly said Friday, according to a tweet from Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s an unfortunate situation. You hate to see anyone like that go out. He’s an All Star, a top-three point guard in the NBA.”
OKC still has enough pieces to make a run without Westbrook. But for now, the Thunder, who have always relied on a team-first mindset, will need to regroup and focus as they continue their quest for an NBA championship.