Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry have been two of the NBA’s elite floor generals for years.
Analysts, players and fans alike have pored over film, studying the nuances of each of the iconic long-range shooters, who have both made a strong case as the best point guard in the NBA.
But who’s better in the playoffs? Is Lillard or Curry the better long-range assassin? Who has faced more double-teams each season? There are endless comparisons between the Trail Blazers superstar and three-time NBA champion, and Lillard has heard them all.
When asked about being compared to Curry, Lillard told Yahoo! Sports Chris Haynes that he doesn’t agree that his shooting from deep distances is reminiscent of the Warriors star, it is simply his own.
“I understand Steph has been playing for championships and has been on national TV countless times,” Lillard told Haynes. “They were building a dynasty. So naturally, when he’s making all these long 3s, everyone is going to pay attention to him. I get that. Meanwhile, I’m in Portland and we’re not getting the exposure as some of the other big teams and so a lot of people didn’t know that I’ve been doing this...
For the most part, Lillard has shrugged off his comparisons to Curry, letting his play on the court do the talking. The five-time NBA All-Star has averaged 28.9 points per game and 42.5 percent shooting from behind the arc while playing against the Warriors, his best regular-season numbers against any opponent.
On the other hand, Curry has averaged 26.7 points and 46.3 from three vs. Dame & Co. He was also responsible to knocking the Trail Blazers out of the NBA Playoffs in 2017 and 2019.
“Any time you play the best in the league in terms of the point guard position, there are a lot of guys who bring the best out of you, and Dame is definitely one of them,” Curry said earlier this week. “He’s gotten better every single year. He’s elevated to elite status. At the end of the day, we love that competition, that battle - whether it’s in the playoffs or during the regular season. Everybody says, ‘It’s just another game,’ and that’s obviously true. But you know you’ve got to be on your game to get the job done, especially against a guy like that.”
Simply put, iron sharpens iron.
In round 1 of Lillard vs. Curry on Friday, it was Dame who walked away victorious. The Trail Blazers sharp-shooter hit 6 of 10 shots from behind the arc, scoring a game-high 34 points in the Trail Blazers 123-98 blowout at Chase Center. Lillard also reached a career milestone on Friday when he became the second player Trail Blazer to reach 15,000 points.
Curry notched 26 points, making just 4 of his 12 three-point attempts.
Lillard will have another opportunity to bolster Portland’s chances of finishing as one of the best team's out West while also improving his individual stock when the Trail Blazers battle against the Warriors on Sunday. If the Trail Blazers can capture their second-straight win over Golden State, Portland would return from its first road trip of the season with a 3-1 record in California.