Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook have had a lot of huge battles in recent seasons, but Lillard says he has nothing but respect for the Houston Rockets guard.
While the two players have different play styles, they also have a lot of similarities: Both are point guards, wear the number zero and both have an intense competitive streak.
While Russ and Dame have had a lot of good battles over the years, their rivalry really heated up during the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs between the Thunder and Blazers. Ultimately, Portland won the series 4-1, as Damian Lillard nailed a game-winning buzzer beater to send OKC home in Game 5.
On the surface, it appears as if Westbrook and Lillard genuinely dislike one another. However, in an interview with House of Highlight’s Omar Raja, Lillard says that he has nothing but respect for Westbrook after being asked if the two have a rivalry.
“I think a competitive rivalry. Like, I respect him a lot and he respects me a lot. I was disappointed that people tried to make it a dislike type of rivalry, because me and Russ are actually cool. I don’t have a problem with him and he doesn’t have a problem with me.”
Westbrook may have switched teams over the offseason, but I expect the two will continue to go back-and-forth the next time they meet on the court. The Rockets will face the Blazers four times next season. Their first matchup will be on Nov. 18 in Houston, the second will be on Jan. 15 in Houston, the third matchup between these teams will be on Jan. 29 in Portland and their final game will be played in Portland once again on Mar. 15.
The Blazers got the best of Houston last year, winning the season series 2-1. As previously mentioned, Portland also eliminated Westbrook in just five games in the postseason on their way to a Western Conference Finals appearance.
Those four matchups between Portland and Houston, both of whom retooled their rosters a bit in the offseason, will be ones to watch next season. In a league where players are often criticized for being too friendly with their opponents, Russ and Dame aren’t shy about showing just how badly they want to beat each other on the floor.