One of the underlying storylines throughout the series has been the ongoing battle between Los Angeles' defensive-oriented guard Patrick Beverley and Golden State's All-Star forward Kevin Durant. In advance of Game 3 on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET -- watch on fuboTV), Durant called Beverley a "pest," due to his ability of defending the tall, lanky Warriors star on the perimeter.
"They're playing a gimmick defense which has been working," Durant said after Wednesday's practice. "Top-locking everything on the perimeter, so guys are not even looking at the 3-point line, they're just forcing guys inside the 3-point line. So for us, when I get the ball in my spots, I got a pest, Patrick Beverley, who is up underneath me -- who I can definitely shoot over the top and score every time if it's a one-on-one situation.
"But we got a guy that's dropping and helping, and then we got another guy that's just sitting on me, waiting for me to dribble the basketball. If I put the basketball on the floor, I can probably make 43 percent of my shots if I shoot 'em like that. But that's not really gonna do nothing for us with the outcome of the game, 'cause we got a nice flow, everybody's touching the rock, everybody's shooting and scoring."
Beverley and Durant got in heated exchanges on multiple occasions during the first two games. In fact, during Game 1, both players argued right in front of an official and were ejected for their actions.
In Game 2, Durant wasn't exactly his usual aggressive self. The star forward did scored 21 points, but only ended up attempting eight shots in 34 minutes.
"Give him credit," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said of Beverley. "He's not the most skilled guy in the world, he's not the best shooter in the world, but the dude's grinded out an NBA career. He started out in Europe. I can't hate on him that much. He's fighting for his livelihood and that's the way he plays.
"His effect on the game a lot of times is more mental than physical. He's always trying to get into K.D.'s head and Klay's [Thompson] head and Steph's [Curry] head, holding, grabbing, flopping, whatever he does. I can't hate on it because that's his role. He's doing a tremendous job for that team. They seem to respond well when he does those kinds of things. They made their run with him off the court, too, so that's another thing we got to look at."
Durant obviously is one of the most gifted shooters that the league has ever seen, so this performance by Beverley is certainly interesting. It's extremely likely that Durant will look to be a little more aggressive when Game 3 rolls around.