Published: Tue, April 16, 2019
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Portland takes Game 1 against Oklahoma

Portland takes Game 1 against Oklahoma

Damian Lillard scored 30 points and the third-seeded Blazers opened their series against the No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday with a 104-99 victory. In fact, they have dropped eight of their previous 11 postseason games and have been eliminated in the first round in each of the last two postseasons.

Kanter has stepped right into the lineup and delivered quality minutes for the Trail Blazers, and on Sunday afternoon, he was key in their Game 1 win over the Thunder. After all, they match up well again them, as evidenced by the fact that they beat them in each of the four regular season meetings.

Well, McCollum's hard work paid off because, on Sunday, the Trail Blazers won game one of their best of seven series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"It's a great feeling", Lillard stated on getting that Game 1 win, overcoming the team's past. "He had a huge presence down the stretch and played a huge part in us winning this game", said Lillard. But he started and hit his first two 3-point attempts.

Kanter, signed just before the All-Star break after he was waived by the New York Knicks, has started in Nurkic's place.

The teams went back and forth in the third quarter - Portland pushing their lead back to double-digits, the Thunder responding with a charge to draw closer. The Trailblazers are 7-24-2 ATS in their last 33 Conference Quarterfinals games, 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games against a team with a winning record and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 Tuesday games. But they struggled from 3-point range, making just two of 18 attempts.

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The Thunder rallied from a 19-point deficit in the first half to trail by just 54-48 at the break.

There was simmering tension between the teams. Ferguson earned his third foul and headed to the bench. With the Blazers clinging to a four-point lead and desperate for a bucket, Kanter rumbled from the perimeter with the shot clock trickling down and finished a did-that-just-happen left-handed scoop shot, pushing the Blazers' lead to 100-94 with 11.4 seconds left.

The Thunder have not gotten past the opening round of the playoffs for the past two seasons.

The Blazers will not have center Jusuk Nurkic, who suffered a broken leg on a gruesome play in late March and missed the last nine games of the season and will be out for the entire playoffs.

"A lot of times, you get a reputation and the reputation kind of sticks with you, whether you deserve it or not", Stotts said. "He maintained a high level of play for a long period of time".

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