NBA playoffs 2019: Damian Lillard explains real relationship with Russell Westbrook

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard’s ongoing feud with Russell Westbrook has been one of the more interesting storylines in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. But the two aren’t always at each other’s throats.

Lillard says he’s actually “real cool” with the Thunder star off the court.

“The funny thing is, off the court, me and Russ is real cool,” Lillard told The Oregonian on Saturday. “I see Russ, he asks about the family, ‘How is the family doing?’ and all that. We actually cool. So it’s funny when they try to say me and Russ hate each other and all this stuff. It’s not really like that. But it’s something about when you get on the court, I guess.”

The two guards are both gritty California natives and grew up just six hours away from each other. They’ve had a few heated exchanges and showy celebrations through three games, and neither one seems to plan on backing down.

“He from the neighborhood. I’m from the neighborhood. Ain’t going to be no getting talked to crazy, getting bullied. It’s not gonna to work. It’s just not gonna to happen,” Lillard said.

Lillard has been phenomenal in the postseason this year. He’s averaging 30.3 points and enters Saturday only trailing James Harden’s average of 30.5. His hot start alongside the help of his backcourt running mate CJ McCollum helped Portland out to to 2-0 lead over Oklahoma City.

Russell Westbrook and the Thunder have battled shooting woes, but the 2017 NBA MVP exploded for 33 points and 11 rebounds to cut his team’s deficit to 2-1 in Game 3.

“I haven’t won a championship,” Lillard said. “I haven’t been an MVP. There are still things out there that I’m after. Obviously, if I don’t get it last year, there are things I need to improve on. If I don’t get it this year, there are things I need to improve on.”

Game 4 will take place at Chesapeake Bay Arena on Sunday.