The Thunder play host to the Warriors tonight, and a lot of people are wondering how many points Oklahoma City’s high octane offense will hang on a lackluster Golden State defense that just gave up 140 to the Rockets. That is certainly a fair question, but it is high time that another matchup got some attention.
A Showdown Worthy of Center Stage
For the past couple of years, the Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant matchup has been undersold. Curry could not stay on the floor and his team stunk so fans without a rooting interest collectively shrugged off the showdown.
I say, no more. Now that Mark Jackson’s Warriors have emerged as a respectable team (until last night anyway), it is time to give this matchup its due.
Westbrook was taken with the fourth pick in 2008, Curry with the seventh pick in 2009. Both play point guard for teams that seem bound for the playoffs. Westbrook ranks seventh in the NBA with 22.6 points per game. Curry is eighth with 21.1 points per contest. They join LeBron as the only players ranking in the top 15 for points, assists and steals per game.
Clash of the Titans
Clearly, both Westbrook and Curry are putting up great stats, but what about head-to-head. Do the two of them actually enjoy good competition on the floor? The unequivocal answer to that is yes.
In the 12 times the two have met since Curry’s rookie year in 2009, Curry owns a slight edge in scoring with 23.0 points per game to Westbrook’s 21.1. Curry has a significant advantage in shooting percentage (.530 to .413 for Westbrook) and has fewer turnovers (3.8 per game to 4.9). Westbrook has been better at distributing the ball with 7.4 assists per game to Curry’s 6.3 and has been a master pickpocket, averaging 3.0 steals a game.
Curry has outscored Westbrook in seven of the contests. In nine of the 12 meetings Curry shot more effectively than the Thunder star. But Westbrook does have a 9-3 advantage in the win column.
Westbrook and Curry have a tendency to elevate their games against each other, with both players scoring and assisting above their respective averages in head-to-head meetings. Whether or not it decides the game, it is certainly the most intriguing matchup on the floor and is worthy of your full attention.