The Thunder lost on Sunday afternoon to the Portland Trail Blazers 104-99 to fall back 1-0 in the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
The Thunder trailed by as many as 19 in the second quarter, but trimmed Portland’s lead down to six at halftime. Paul George’s shoulder affected him on the offensive end the whole game, with George getting blocked three times in the first quarter. George finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-24 shooting, while going 4-of-15 from three-point range. George’s four three-pointers were the majority of Oklahoma City’s horrific 5-for-33 from three performance.
Terrance Ferguson said that the Thunder have to “keep shooting” and not let this bad performance get to them. Shots will fall eventually.
Russell Westbrook was the Thunder’s best player, with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists on 8-17 shooting. Westbrook was able to get to the rim whenever he wanted, something that was missing in last season’s playoffs versus Utah.
Steven Adams scored 17 points while grabbing nine rebounds. The rebound battle was very tight, with Oklahoma City barely edging Portland 49-to-48.
Damian Lillard led Portland in scoring with 30 points on 9-of-21 shooting, hitting some huge three pointers, like when Portland was up 93-92 with 2:44 left. The Thunder attacked Enes Kanter, but not as much as they needed to to play him off the floor. Kanter finished with 20 points, and 18 rebounds, with seven of them coming on the offensive end. The Thunder will lose the series if they do not take advantage of Kanter on defense, because he’s simply too good on the boards.
The Thunder played a good defensive game, if you subtract the first quarter. Oklahoma City forced 18 turnovers and snatched 10 steals, while holding Portland to 41.9 percent from the field. The three-point defense needs to be better however, as Portland shot 44.9 percent with most of them coming from Lillard.
Oklahoma City finished with 18 assists, and Portland finished with 14. Both teams’ ball movement left more to be desired. The low amount of assists for the Thunder can be credited to the 28 missed three pointers.
To win Game 2, all Oklahoma City has to do is simply make shots and play better defense on Damian Lillard and CJ. McCollum. Make Kanter defend more. It’s a testament to how gritty the Thunder are to play as bad as they did and have so many opportunities to win. Jerami Grant getting more opportunities to score would also be a good thing. He was the Thunder’s second best three-point shooter in the regular season.
Paul George was a gametime decision, and ended up playing. George after the game said that four days ago, he “couldn’t even lift his shoulder.” Luckily, George said that he was feeling no issues physically today, and his shooting struggles were more of a rhythm issue. Hoping for a bounce-back game two.
Game two will be in Portland, on Tuesday, April 16th at 9:30 p.m. Thunder time. After that, both teams will head over to Oklahoma City for two games.
Keys to the Game
The Thunder outrebounded Portland 49-48. Considering Jusuf Nurkic is not playing, that is embarrassing. Enes Kanter is gonna rack up rebounds, but there has to be a better team effort to secure the basketball.
The Oklahoma City bench scored a total of 21 points, with 11 coming from Schröder, 8 from Nerlens Noel, and 2 from Markieff Morris. Schröder played 36 minutes with Terrance Ferguson practically being non-existent. There has to be more production for the Thunder to succeed. Relying on your stars will only get you so far.
Defend the Three: D
The Blazers shot 44.9 percent from three, but only made 11. That’s a 16 percent improvement over their season average versus Oklahoma City, but limiting Portland to only 11 made threes is a good thing. Lillard led the Blazers with 5-of-11 from three.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!