The Houston Rockets are 49-23 at the moment, a record good enough for the No. 4 seed in the insanely competitive Western Conference, and — in all likelihood — will remain in that spot and will play the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1st round of the postseason. Of course this is assuming that nothing drastic happens between now and when the regular season ends in a couple of weeks.
Second in the NBA in points per game, the Rockets have had no trouble scoring this season but are going through some injury issues right now, as Dwight Howard is out for around 10 days with an ankle injury and recently found out that key reserve guard Patrick Beverley has a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Initially, that news was believed to keep Beverley out of contention for a possible playoff return down the road, as injuries of that ilk tend to be extremely serious and take awhile to rehab from.
However, earlier on Monday, it was revealed that world famous knee specialist Dr. James Andrews — team physician for the NFL’s Washington Redskins and many star players across all professional sports — decided surgery is not necessary for Beverley’s knee, meaning that he should be able to be back on the floor in time for the postseason.
Beverley, averaging 9.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this season, is expected to miss two more weeks at the least, putting him perfectly in line to play with his team when they open up their postseason slate.
Those statistics may not look too incredible, but Beverley’s contribution to Kevin McHale’s Rockets goes much deeper than just the superficial stat sheet, as he is a top-flight perimeter defender, is extremely pesky to opposing offenders, and provides a nastiness and willingness to go after other team’s top players on both ends of the court.
The Arkansas product was drafted by the Lakers back in 2009, but bounced around in Europe, Russia, and the D-League before finding a home in Houston just last year, on a team which he is crucial to the success of.
He may be desperately needed by the Rockets in order to progress in the minefield that is going to be the Western Conference playoffs, but even though he will not be able to play until then, Houston is not really in that much trouble. The Rockets are 2.5 games ahead of the fifth place Blazers and with only 10 games left to play (just seven for the Blazers), a lead of that size is probably safe especially considering that the Rockets play just four games against playoff teams the rest of the way.
Beverley is a key member of the Rockets and is one of their biggest defensive (and to a smaller extent, offensive) catalysts, so losing him for basically the rest of the regular season is a bit of a blow.
Still, though, he will be back right after the season ends and will be able to play his normal, important role in the postseason for Houston, which needs as many weapons as possible to advance through the West. At least his meniscus isn’t as torn as it was expected to be.