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The Western Conference first round playoff matchup between the Portland Trailblazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder has brought two of the best point guards in the NBA, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, head-to-head in a heated face off.
Now at 2-1 with a Trailblazer advantage, basketball fans watching the series have been enjoying the two trade jabs on the court, with their offense, defense, and with their mouths.
“We, the American people, deserve to have Dame and Russ mic’d up for the rest of the series,” David Gardner, a writer and producer for Bleacher Report, wrote on Twitter after Game 3 in the series.
In the third quarter of the game, which the Thunder won 120-108, Westbrook backed down Lillard to hit a fade away over him. Then Westbrook taunted Lillard on his way down the court by pretending to cradle a baby in his arms.
In moments after that barb from Westbrook, Lillard went on to score 23 points. In the first two games of the series, Lillard outscored Westbrook, but Westbrook got the best of him in Game 3 and outscored Lillard by a point.
Former NBA player and basketball analyst Jalen Rose tweeted after the game that he wishes “Dame and Russ could play one-on-one after the game.”
But some basketball fans who are following the series see a meta narrative arising in the battle between the two: a duel between NorCal and SoCal. Lillard, who’s from Oakland and graduated from Oakland High School, and Westbrook, who’s from Long Beach and played college ball at UCLA, both represent where they’re from, although they play for franchises outside of California.
“It’s Oakland vs. LA…there’s a respect that need not be acknowledged. They know the real,” wrote Ryan Cole, another producer from Bleacher Report, about the duel between the field generals.
He wasn’t the only person to recognize the potential for interstate rivalry.”Russ and Dame beef is lit…Russ (Los Angeles) Dame (Oakland). Need I say more?” wrote Twitter user @CheefhaKhalifa.
Some of the people watching the series have attributed Lillard’s superior play in the series to his Oakland origins. “Really hope Logo Lillard keeps balling, and keeps busting Westbrook…. He deserves the shine. That Oakland grind is showing!” Twitter user @LarryEMcDaniel wrote.
Either way, Lillard said that the trash talk between him and Westbrook doesn’t bother him, when speaking at a press conference after Game 3. The two Californians face off again in Game 4 of the best-of-7 series on Sunday.
Check out how basketball fans have been talking about the NorCal vs. SoCal rivalry between Lillard and Westbrook in the gallery above.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Dame-Lillard-Russ-Westbrook-Trailblazers-Thunder-13782215.php.