Portland Trail Blazers: Deciding the winner of basketball’s best rivalry

Lillard vs. Westbrook looks like the next great rivalry, who will come out on top as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Rockets three times next season?

Let’s face it, the NBA is nothing without the heated, yet highly entertaining rivalries that feature some of the top talent going head-to-head, sometimes spanning even into the playoffs. We have seen some extraordinary matchups in the past, LeBron vs. Kobe, Shaq vs Barkley, and of course, one of the most legendary rivalries of all-time between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Now, the Portland Trail Blazers have seen one of the most competitive rivalries in the league today grow and prosper.

These two are far from friends on the court and both sport much improved supporting casts after battling it out in the playoffs last season. Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook will both have a chip on their shoulder and be looking to settle the score. While their meetings on the court will certainly have Game of the Year potential, one question remains unanswered: which player is the better of the two?

Whenever these two met in the 2018-19 regular season, the Blazers were left with a bitter taste in their mouth as they dropped all four close games against the Thunder, none of which were by a margin of defeat more than four points. March 7 marked the last time these two teams would meet until the postseason, and despite going into overtime, Lillard couldn’t best his rival. But when these two teams would meet in the playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers would get the last laugh as Lillard hit the iconic 37-foot game winner to advance to the next round of the NBA Playoffs.

Russell Westbrook would then be traded to the Rockets on July 11, to reunite with former Thunder teammate, James Harden. Now that these two will be seeing each other three times this year, we will see which of these superstar guards will win the  best-of-three series. If we take a look at their stats and accolades, we may already know who will be the winner.

During last year’s playoffs, Lillard averaged 26.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game with a 56.6 true shooting percentage. Meanwhile, Westbrook averaged yet another triple-double with 22.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game with a terrible 46.6 true shooting percentage. The statistically superior here is clearly Dame.

Even though Russ may have an MVP award sitting in his trophy case back home, that hasn’t translated to tangible success. In the playoffs, Lillard has been a much more consistent performer despite not ever reaching the NBA Finals. Westbrook on the other hand had three MVP’s on the same team and still could not win a championship (only winning one game in the NBA Finals, in fact).

Next: How the Blazers are replacing Aminu and Harkless

Overall this rivalry is too close to call, but with the teams entering the 2019-2020 NBA season, high hopes have already charged up the fanbases of Rip City and the Houston Rockets and the teams look ready to take off to the NBA Finals. So who wins this battle of the point guards? I think we should let them answer that question this season.

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