A game between Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook is always heated.
The Portland Trail Blazers star and Washington Wizards guard are two of the fiercest rivals on the court and bring an intensity to the game unmatched by most others. Both Lillard and Westbrook are motivated by a desire to achieve, and they so badly want to beat the other.
As Portland (10-9) and Washington (4-12) gear up to battle on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena, Wizards coach Scott Brooks expects nothing less than an all-out duel.
"They’re two high, high elite basketball players. They’ve been great for their teams throughout the years," Brooks said. "I know they have history, but I’ve been around Russell enough, he has history with everybody."
In December, Lillard called Westbrook his ultimate “arch nemesis” on the court.
"It’s been that way every time we’ve played since I’ve been in the NBA,” Lillard explained. “Eight straight years of just me and him going at each other.”
Lillard and Westbrook have had some of the NBA’s most memorable matchups. There was the “rock the baby” celebration with Westbrook taunting the Trail Blazers star, and who can forget Lillard hitting the iconic game-winning buzzer beater and waving goodbye to OKC in the 2019 playoffs, essentially sending the franchise into a rebuild.
Then, recently, Lillard called out a local reporter for his hot take on the league’s best backcourt, which suggested Westbrook and Beal had the NBA’s best backcourt tandem, not Lillard and McCollum.
Brooks knows Lillard can pose a lot of problems for the Wizards Tuesday night, but he reminds us, you can’t underestimate the power of Westbrook either.
"You know when you play [Westbrook], you better be ready to play,” Brooks said. “He’s going to bring a physicality; he’s going to bring a mental edge. Dame does the same thing. He does it in a quiet way. But he puts a lot of stress and mental anguish on his opponents and other team’s coaching.
"Right now, he’s making 35-footers like it seems like layups. That’s a hard thing to guard. I’m sure both are going to compete against each other and that’s good. You want two of the best players on teams that compete. We aren’t here to make friends and they aren’t either."
The storied rivalry continues on Tuesday as the game tips off at 5:00 p.m. on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.