During his pregame interview prior to the LA Clippers’ Saturday night game against the Denver Nuggets, Head Coach Tyronn Lue gave an encouraging update on Patrick Beverley’s health status.
It’s an exciting development to be sure. Beverley has missed the Clippers’ last 12 games after fracturing a metacarpal bone in his left hand. Earlier in the season, he missed an additional twelve games due to right knee soreness. Overall, he’s played just 31 of a possible 65 games this season, a low number even for his injury-riddled standards.
When he’s been healthy, Beverley has been a solid starting point guard, despite only averaging eight points and 2.1 assists. Playing alongside ball-dominant wings like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Beverley is asked to do just two things: hit spot-up threes and play pesty, tenacious defense. He’s done that this season to a tee: He’s hitting 41.2% of his threes this season, and the Clippers have a 106.1 defensive rating when Beverley is on the floor. That latter figure is not only the second-highest on the team among rotation players (trailing only Rajon Rondo’s 103 defensive rating over 12 games played), it would sit higher than the no. 1-ranked Los Angeles Lakers’ defense as a whole.
If we’re to take Lue’s word literally, a ‘couple games’ would place his return date as May 6, against those very Lakers. This date is by no means set in stone, but it is encouraging to hear that Beverley will get some time to reacclimate himself to the team before the postseason begins on May 22.
Lue also gave an update on Serge Ibaka, who has missed the Clippers’ last 25 games with what the team has deemed as “lower back tightness.”
It sounds as though Ibaka’s return will be a bit more delayed than Beverley’s, but still, progress is progress. Ideally, Ibaka will return before the postseason as well, so Lue can have somewhat of an idea of what he’s dealing with rotation-wise before the Clippers are thrown into a seven-game series. However, with just seven games left in the regular season, that is looking less and less likely.