DALLAS -- Third-year Dallas Mavericks guard Rodrigue Beaubois could only imagine what it must be like to match quickness and hops with Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in last season's Western Conference Finals.
Perhaps the game's most ferocious point guard in terms of attacking the rim, Westbrook brings season averages of 21.3 points and 5.8 assists into tonight's big game in Big D. For the first time in three meetings between these evenly matched clubs, Beaubois will start at point guard and these two talented 23-year-olds will go toe-to-toe from the tip.
Beaubois' main objective against San Antonio's Tony Parker last Sunday was to keep him out of the lane. Same goes for Westbrook, although the OKC guard will try to use his size advantage on Beaubois on post-ups, a facet Beaubois has not seen much.
"Just a completely different kind of athlete and a different kind of attacker," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Westbrook. "The first play of the game is probably going to be to him. That’s what they’ve been doing the last several games. They post him up and he just attacks the guy, whoever is guarding him. It’s part of Roddy’s growth and development to be ready to play different guys like this, but this is an All-Star player, this is a guy that’s a USA Basketball player. But, the good news is we’ve got other guys to help out. We’ve got [Delonte] West to guard him, we’ve got Jet [Jason Terry] to guard him, we’ve got D.J. [Dominique Jones] to guard him if we need to, but the guy’s a monster."
Of course, the two guards might be the same age, but their careers have taken decidedly different tracks with the lanky Beaubois attempting to rise to Westbrook's All-Star caliber. Westbrook has scored 31 and 28 points in his last two games on 50 percent shooting.
Beaubois has averaged nearly 15 points in his last three games running the point and he's dished seven assists in each. He's been a defensive menace as well, using his unusually long wing span to block jumpers at the point of release.
"He’s done a good job of managing decision-making at the point guard position," Carlisle said. "I thought his energy was a little down in the Phoenix game. I think it was just because of the game the previous night against San Antonio going to overtime – 36 or 37 minutes is a lot. But, again, that’s part of the learning curve. That’s part of the development. We had a day [Tuesday] to recharge, so we’re all going to have to be ready tonight."
And so goes the continuing education of Roddy Beaubois.