Portland vs. OKC Game 1: Five Thoughts
By: Alberto Bodei, Staff Writer
.The Oklahoma City Thunder lost game one of the playoffs in Portland, 99-104 the final score.
A bad shooting night from behind the arc and an absent defensive effort in the first quarter turned out to be costly for the Thunder.
The team lead by Russell Westbrook found itself trailing for as much as nineteen points at the beginning of the second quarter. Despite an incredible defensive effort in the remaining three quarters (the Thunder outscored the Blazers 75-64), the margin was too big to come back from it, and now Oklahoma City finds itself trailing 1-0 in the first round.
Paul George, Rusty
Paul George didn't shot the ball well. Actually, before tonight he didn't shoot the ball at all for a few days due to his shoulder's injury. That's a big problem for the Thunder. If Geroge can't hit three-pointers consistently (4-15 yesterday), then OKC is in trouble. In the post-game interview, George said that the shoulder is alright and it's all about getting back in rhythm. However, if these struggles from the distance will continue also in game two, then George should try to attack the rim more (3-6 in the paint in game one) and not only settle for three-pointers.
Russell Westbrook, calm and controlled
There were a lot of questions on how Westbrook would approach the duel with Damian Lillard. The main one probably was: Will Russell go on a personal battle against Dame? Well, he didn't, and actually Westbrook played really well without forcing too much from outside the paint, set up his teammates for good shots (twenty-six potential assists, only ten converted), and overall defended Ok (yeah, that late Lillard's open three from really outside wasn't a good defensive look). Westbrook finished the game with a triple-double, twenty-four points (8-17 FG, 0-4 3PT, 8-8 FT), ten rebounds, ten assists, and four turnovers.
Steven Adams, solid
The big Kiwi played well, on both ends of the floor. Offensively Adams did a great job in the pick and roll and in the post. Steven grabbed also six offensive rebounds. This is not too bad considering that he was against Kanter, a very good rebounder. On the other end of the court, I think Adams was more than Ok. As always, Steven does little things defensively that will not pop up in the box score, but certainly, they help the team. His final stat line is seventeen points (8-14 FG, 1-2 FT), nine rebounds, three steals, one assist, and three turnovers.
Defense, full game intensity
Oklahoma City started the game with the wrong defensive attitude. Indeed, the Blazers hit some tough shots in the first quarter, but also the Thunder didn't do much to stop them. Portland scored thirty-nine points in the first twelve minutes. However, on the positive side, from there on everyone chipped in, and the Blazers scored a total only sixty-four in the other three quarters combined. In game two, OKC will need to bring its best defensive game from the tip-off in order to avoid to find itself in another deep scoring hole.
Offense, everyone needs to step in
Outside of Westbrook, George, and Adams, the rest of the team didn't do much offensively. Nerles Noel is the only impactful players outside of the three mentioned. The backup center finished with eight points (4-5 FG), and six rebounds (five on offense). Sure, Dennis Schröder finished with eleven points, but he shot terribly (5-17 FG, 0-7 3PT, 1-2 FT), while Grant, Ferguson, Morris, and Felton were almost non-existent on the offensive side of the court. To be successful, OKC will need more from its supporting cast, especially when one of the stars (Paul George), is not at its best offensively.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play game 2 in Portland on Tuesday night. Tip-off 9.30 pm CT.