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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four takeaways from the Portland Trail Blazers' Game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder

It came down to the wire, but the Portland Trail Blazers seemed to have shaken off their playoff woes of recent years with a Game 1 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

While the Blazers came out of the gates firing, scoring 39 points in the first quarter on 60.0 percent shooting from the field and 70.0 percent from deep, it wasn't sustained as they shot 36.4 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from 3-point range in the final three quarters.

Still, Portland found a way to win.

Damian Lillard led the way with a game-high 30 points including a number of ridiculously deep triples that set the tone for the Blazers. CJ McCollum added 24 points and Enes Kanter finished with a monster 20-point, 18-rebound double-double.

In a losing effort, Russell Westbrook put forth yet another triple-double (24 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) while Paul George finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. As a team, the Thunder struggled to get going offensively all night, and the team suffered as a result.

For more on how it all went down, here are four takeaways from the Blazers' Game 1 win…

Thunder's 3-point struggles

OKC's inconsistency on offence was one of the biggest questions coming into the postseason, highlighted by their woes from beyond the arc.

The Thunder ranked in the bottom-10 in the league in the regular season, shooting 34.8 percent from deep.

We saw their struggles from long range on full display in their Game 1 loss as the team went 5-for-33 (15.2 percent).

In fact, Paul George (4-15 3PT) and Terrence Ferguson (1-2 3PT) were the only two players on the team to convert a 3-pointer despite every player attempting at least one, aside from their two centres, Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel.

Dennis Schroder went 0-for-7, Russell Westbrook was 0-for-4 and Jerami Grant went 0-for-3 while Raymond Felton and Markieff Morris both missed their only attempts.

The Blazers used the 3-ball as a difference-maker, going 11-for-25 (44.0 percent) from three and outscoring the Thunder 33-15 from the perimeter.

A rough game for Paul George

Paul George was two different players this season.

While he played at an MVP level for most of the season, he struggled down the stretch, likely because of a shoulder injury that he has been dealing with since the end of February. He averaged 26.1 points per game in his final 19 games, but did so on 39.7 percent shooting from the field and 33.8 percent from 3-point range.

Those struggles carried over into Game 1, as George finished with 26 points on 8-for-24 shooting from the field and 4-for-15 from distance.

He made an impact in other areas with 10 rebounds and four steals, but George also committed a team-high four turnovers and picked up his fifth foul with just under four minutes to play in the game.

George was a game-time decision heading into Game 1, so it's no surprise that he wasn't at full strength. But with how little shooting the Thunder have outside of him, they can't afford for him to have multiple off-nights in this series.

Enes Kanter steps up

The injury to Jusuf Nurkic in late March caused many to count Portland out in the regular season as well as in this series once it clinched the West's No. 4 seed.

How could the Blazers replace his nightly double-doubles? In Game 1, Enes Kanter rose to the challenge.

Against his former team, the big man finished with 20 points (on 8-for-15 shooting) and 18 rebounds (seven offensive) in 34 minutes of action - a performance good for a team-high plus-15 in the box score.

It was loud, too. Kanter pulled down timely offensive rebounds and drove for a layup late in the game to put Portland up six with 11 seconds remaining. Plays like these caused Lillard to refer to the 26-year-old centre as "the MVP for us tonight."

Kanter did more than hold his own against the Thunder's Steven Adams, who finished Game 1 with 17 points and nine rebounds.

If sustained, Kanter's performance makes this Portland team extremely tough to deal with in the interior and on the boards.

Dame Time

Damian Lillard showed up when the Blazers needed him the most in Game 1.

Lillard scored a game-high 30 points, with 14 coming in the fourth quarter on 3-for-4 shooting from the field.

Two of his made field goals were deep 3-pointers, the second of which helped give the Blazers a 96-92 lead with 2:23 minutes to play.

Lillard then sealed the deal by draining four free throws in the closing seconds when the Thunder intentionally fouled him to extend the game.

With Kanter's play through three quarters and Lillard's play in crunch time, it proved to be too much for the Thunder to handle.

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