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A look back at the Westbrook-Embiid rivalry ahead of opener

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Though Russell Westbrook's stats equate almost exactly to Joel Embiid's in five meetings between the two foes, the new Wizards point guard has defeated Embiid each of the five times they've played. 

On Dec. 23, the two will meet again for a sixth time, in their respective teams' season opener.

In previous meetings, Westbrook and Embiid have outscored each other twice, and had the same amount (20 points) the fifth encounter. That's about as close as it gets between two stars who've infamously allowed their beef to spill onto the court. 

Still, Westbrook has managed to outlast Embiid's 76ers all five contests, with four of those coming during his time with the Thunder. Although Embiid got the better of him in last year's All-Star Game, Westbrook will surely take the wins.

As one of the fastest players in basketball, Wesbtrook also has one of the best engines that allows him to turn it up a notch late when the game is on the line. That motor has proven to be too high of a task for the ill-conditioned Embiid to overcome -- especially in the third game on this list. 

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If Westbrook is going to get off to a good start wearing the No. 4 Wizards uniform, he'll have to stay perfect against one of the best big men in the game. 

 

Here's a look back at the top-five duels between the 2017 NBA MVP and "The Process."

5. January 3, 2020 - Last Time Out

The most recent encounter between these two was perhaps the most uneventful. In a 10-point victory for the Rockets, Westbrook and Embiid didn't have any of the highlight-reel plays (or much trash talking) that had become a staple of prior meetings. 

RELATED: First half of Wizards 2020-21 schedule released with Russell Westbrook's first game vs. 76ers

Instead, it was their team's other two stars that stole the spotlight as Ben Simmons' stat line of 29 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds wasn't enough to outduel James Harden's ridiculous 41-point triple-double. Philadelphia's clunky lineup looked a lot different than it will in this year's season opener, as the man who traded two first-round picks and two pick swaps plus Chris Paul for Westbrook, Daryl Morey, now seems to have righted the ship for the Sixers.

4. October 26, 2016 - The Last Season Opener Between Westbrook-Embiid

The last time these two stars met to open the NBA season was also Embiid's first action in the NBA, opening his professional debut with an impressive block on Westbrook on one end before going on to score with a fadeaway shot over Steven Adams after two full seasons out due to a foot injury.  

Still, Embiid ended up losing his first game. Westbrook put on a typically well-rounded game with 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a four-point win in what was his first game since Kevin Durant left him for greener pastures in Golden State. 

3. December 15, 2017 - The Wave Goodbye

Coming in at No. 3 was this triple-overtime thriller between the two. Here's where their rivalry really starts to heat up. After Embiid waved goodbye to Adams, who fouled out in the third overtime, as he headed to the bench, Westbrook made sure to return the favor after securing the win for his Oklahoma City. 

When you post a triple-double, albeit an inefficient one as Embiid pointed out, giving your arch-nemesis a nice revenge toodles is a nice cherry on top of the icing on the cake after a hard-earned victory. 

2. January 18, 2018 - The Staredown

One month later, Westbrook earned the better of Embiid once again. And once again, the dynamic guard had another parting gift for the 7-foot-2 Cameroonian once the result was put beyond any doubt. 

This is about as petty as actions get in the NBA, but Westbrook's staredown put even more fuel to the fire of this epic player rivalry. In what was his best performance on this list, Westbrook put 37 points past Embiid's Philadelphia and nearly nabbed another triple-double with nine assists and 14 rebounds. 

1. January 19, 2019 - Beef Confirmed

A year later, a Thunder double-team stole the ball with under two minutes remaining and hit Westbrook on the fast break. With Embiid attempting a LeBron James-like chase-down block on Westbrook, who fumbled the ball at the last second, the two collided and a heated exchange ensued. 

 

After the game, Westbrook gave the media a not-safe-for-work answer when asked if he and Embiid "were cool."

With less than three weeks away now, the first edition of this must-see Westbrook-Embiid rivalry playing in the same conference will kick off the season on NBC Sports Washington. It won't be one Wizards fans will want to miss.