In the first round of the NBA 2K tournament, Patrick Beverley said he was too locked in to start talking until he went up double digits.
Thank goodness he abandoned that policy for the quarterfinals.
Beverley was down for essentially the entire first half and didn’t ever take a 10-point lead, but the challenge presented by Andre Drummond forced Beverley to be animated nonetheless. Despite being down early and trailing by as much as 11 in the second quarter, no. 14 seed Beverley talked throughout and rallied to earn a hard-fought 69-62 victory over the no. 6 seed Drummond.
Drummond picked the Milwaukee Bucks, giving him the inherent advantage, especially since Beverley insisted on saving the Clippers for the final round. He chose Philadelphia, and for a while, it looked like the 2019-20 Sixers were going to lay another egg on the road.
The double-digit lead was trimmed to six at halftime, and Beverley started the third quarter on a 7-0 run. The two teams traded the lead back and forth for a few possessions, and Beverley continued to frustrate Drummond by intentionally fouling to stop his fast breaks, particularly when Giannis Antetokounmpo was in transition.
It was a defensive slugfest, which had to benefit Beverley. His Sixers made only two 3-pointers, electing to do most of the damage in the paint. At one point, Beverley got Drummond jumping on a series of fakes, and he finally scored with Ben Simmons on his fifth attempt at the basket. He told Drummond, “Big man basketball! You ain’t the only one that play muscle basketball, Drummond, there’s some little guards out here that muscle up too.”
Drummond had a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter after draining a buzzer-beater with Eric Bledsoe to go up 46-45, but Beverley dominated the final session.
He played the game exactly how he does in a Clippers uniform, taking much more pride on the defensive end than on offense. He even took an ill-advised jumper in the final minute when he should have been running clock, and proclaimed that he’d rather be on defense anyway.
Beverley entered the contest as the new betting favorite after walloping Hassan Whiteside in Round 1. He now gets to face Deandre Ayton in the semifinals, after the Phoenix center upset Trae Young in his second-round matchup. That means both semifinals will feature Clippers against Suns, with Montrezl Harrell taking on Devin Booker on the other side of the bracket.
The Clipper guard’s success comes at no surprise to himself. Those tuned in to the Clippers 2K leaderboard also expected Beverley to advance this far.
The viewing public should be rooting for Beverley to continue to move on, if for no other reason than pure entertainment value. He has been the most captivating player to watch, and as his comeback against Drummond confirmed, he is also pretty, pretty good.