The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trailblazers have identical 39-24 records and are deadlocked three games back of the Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division. These two teams will have a chance to get a leg up on each other when they meet in Portland on Thursday. Oklahoma City has won the past three meetings between these two teams after dropping six straight. One of the featured matchups in this crucial meeting will be Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook versus Portland’s Damian Lillard.
Westbrook is one of the most well-rounded players in the league and is a big reason for Oklahoma City’s success. He averages 22.4 points per game, 11.2 rebounds, and 10.8 assists making him a triple-double machine. However, a recent slide in production has coincided with a miserable seven-game stretch in which the Thunder have won just twice. He has averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 7.5 rebounds in his last two games and he has recorded just one triple-double in his last seven outings.
This will be the fourth time Westbrook has faced the Blazers this year. In their first meeting, he scored 31 points while adding seven assists and nine rebounds. He scored 29 points with 14 assists and 10 rebounds in the second game and then 21 points, 11 assists, and 14 rebounds in the third. That’s about 27 points per game which exceeds his average this year. Considering his personal mini-slump and the fact that he’s on the road, it would still be easy to bank on him getting 23 points on Thursday.
While he logs the same number of minutes as his counterpart, Lillard is a different kind of player. While his 25.9 points per game are higher than Westbrook’s, he doesn’t come all that close to his opponent in the rebounding and assists department. However, that is not important for our purposes as we are just focusing on which of these two players scores more points on Thursday. Like Westbrook, Lillard has not been producing up to his 2019 season average over the past several weeks. He is averaging a little over 23.4 points per game since the beginning of February and he has eclipsed the 25-point plateau four times in that 12-game span. We should keep in mind that the bulk of those games have been on the road.
In his three games against the Thunder this season, Lillard has been rather impressive. The 23 points he scored in the first game might not be anything sensational but he scored 34 and 31 points in the other two games. A home game against a slumping Thunder team might be exactly what the 6’3” point guard needs to get back on track. It isn’t too much of a stretch to project a 27-point performance out of Lillard which would surpass Westbrook’s total.
My Pick: Damian Lillard scores more points than Russell Westbrook on Thursday.
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