P.J. Tucker Ponders Potential Russell Westbrook, James Harden 1-on-1 Matchup

Michael Shapiro

The NBA's coronavirus has created a serious void for fans as we approach the third week without live games. Some have turned back the clock to watch old classics in their spare time, while others turn to NBA 2K to get a virtual hoops fix. Rockets forward P.J. Tucker took time to entertain some fans on Friday, hosting an Instagram Live Q&A. 

Tucker took questions on a variety of topics, from his standing as the NBA's sneaker king to his love for the city of Houston. But one answer from Tucker in particular stood out. The Rockets' small-ball center analyzed a potential 1-on-1 matchup between James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and he shared some knowledge on the dynamic between Houston's two MVPs.

"Out the gate, Russ is going to come playing so hard and James is going be just chilling," Tucker said. "But if Russ goes up, then James is going to get mad and get real. ...I think it ends in them just fighting."

Tucker praised both Harden and Westbrook's competitive fire, adding one more player to the list of the NBA's top competitors.

"Throw [Chris Paul] in there, and that's three of the most competitive dudes I've ever seen," Tucker said. 

Harden and Westbrook logged 27 games against each other from 2012-19 between Harden's departure from Oklahoma City and Westbrook's arrival in Houston. Harden holds a 14–13 all-time edge, including a 4–3 lead in postseason contests. 

Both players have held their own in the matchup. Harden leads the way with 30.6 points and 7.7 assists per game, while Westbrook is averaging 29 points, 9.1 rebounds and 9.8 assists. Harden leads the NBA in scoring for the third straight season in 2019-20, though Westbrook has emerged as the Rockets' leading offensive force since Jan. 1. 

Houston currently sits No. 6 in the Western Conference at 44–20 amid the coronavirus hiatus.