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Patrick Beverley has once again found his place

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It’s right in Donovan Mitchell’s air space.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Two weeks ago, Patrick Beverley was the Clippers’ loudest cheerleader.

It was a demotion the team’s starting point guard during the regular season took in stride, knowing that the matchup against Luka Dončić wasn’t in his favor. All he could do was support the team from the bench and stay ready when his number was called.

And with a new opponent in the second round, Beverley has seen his role change yet again. He isn’t the starter with Reggie Jackson establishing a firm foothold in that spot, but Beverley has passed Rajon Rondo on the depth chart as the de facto backup point guard. Beverley’s defense has been critical to the Clippers winning two in Staples Center to even the conference semifinals.

Through four games against Utah, Beverley has the second-best defensive rating among Clippers who have appeared in every contest; his individual rating of 102.3 points allowed per 100 possessions is substantially lower than the Jazz’s overall offensive rating of 114.9 in the second round. Beverley has been on the court for about 35 percent of L.A.’s possessions during this series, and the Clippers have outscored Utah by 12 points in that time.

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Four
Patrick Beverley isn’t making anything easy for Donovan Mitchell in this series.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“I just want to give Pat Beverley a lot of credit. Pat Beverley come into the game defensively, what he did for us, he just totally changed the game,” Ty Lue said after Game 4. “So you know, a total team win, Marcus Morris getting off to a great start, Kawhi and PG doing their thing but I thought Pat Beverley really did a great job of coming in and setting that tone for us defensively.

Beverley’s defensive impact has been most pronounced on Donovan Mitchell. Beverley has the size and speed to contest and even frustrate Mitchell. The Utah star has generally been spectacular against the Clippers, but look how his numbers plummet when he shares the court with Beverley.

Donovan Mitchell Second-Round Stats

Stats Pat Bev on Pat Bev off
Stats Pat Bev on Pat Bev off
Minutes 40 107
Points 22 127
2-pointers 3-13 (23.1%) 25-45 (55.6%)
3-pointers 5-15 (33.3%) 18-36 (50%)
Free Throws 1-2 (50%) 23-28 (82.1%)
Assists 4 14
Turnovers 6 7
Plus/Minus -19 -3

Mitchell’s shooting percentages are much worse when Beverley is playing, and he rarely if ever gets to the foul line. Beverley’s presence has also resulted in Mitchell being more turnover-prone, and overall less effective.

That’s why Beverley’s minutes have increased during this series, even as he struggles to find his offense. The Clippers have plenty of avenues for scoring, but only one guard who can collect four blocks and stymie Mitchell like this.

Beverley’s performance is even more remarkable considering what his last two weeks have looked like. He played a total of 11 minutes over the final five games of the Dallas series, including DNPs in the final two, and only saw the court for six minutes in Game 1 against Utah. But he’s shown no signs of rust in his effort level, even if his jumper hasn’t come back, and the Clippers have needed every bit of it.

The Clippers would rely on Beverley whether he was playing or not, as Marcus Morris Sr. said after Game 4.

“First of all just his leadership, how vocal he is, how locked in he is for a guy that hasn’t been in play in the first round to still be that locked in and still be very helpful for the team if he’s playing or not playing that, shows a lot about his character,” Morris said. “He’s just playing with tremendous energy, very vocal and one of the leaders on our team.”

Now, the Clippers need that energy to travel to Salt Lake City for Game 5.