Rockets-Thunder Game 5 preview: Patrick Beverly returns to Oklahoma City after Russell Westbrook injury

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After trying for a steal on the play that injured Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverly has become disliked – in some cases, to extreme levels – among Thunder fans.

So, now that the series has shifted back to Oklahoma City, nobody is taking any chances. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Arena security stationed a police officer behind bench already as Pat Beverley stretches. Building not open yet.

Pretty hefty police presence around the Rockets’ end of the court. Fake tough guys will have to stick to Twitter

In addition of officers on court for Beverley’s early warmups before doors opened, there were two on the bus. They’re not kidding around.

It’s in that backdrop Beverly becomes one of the most pivotal players in this series. Jeremy Lin is a game-time decision, but the Rockets have been much better with Beverly than Lin on both ends of the court in the playoffs.

  • Offensive rating with Lin: 88.0
  • Offensive rating with Beverly: 105.3
  • Defensive rating with Lin: 116.6
  • Defensive rating with Beverly: 107.2

Beverly has shot 6-of-16 on 3-pointers against Oklahoma City, making him one of several Rockets to step up from beyond the arc. Francisco Garcia (9-of-19), Chandler Parsons (10-of-27) and Carlos Delfino (11-of-30) are also making their 3-pointers.

In theory, those shots should help space the floor for James Harden, though he’ll have to perform better than he did in Game 4 (4-for-12, 10 turnovers).

But a lot of that positive action is sparked by Beverly, who will certainly be feeling the heat tonight.