That's why it was concerning to hear George talk after the game about the health of his shoulder and how Game 1 was the first time he'd shot in days after not being able to lift his shoulder four days prior.
Portland led by as many as 19 points in the first half, but the Thunder pulled within 80-77 early in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Portland Trailblazers got swept by the Thunder in the regular season, but you wouldn't know that from the way they played as they stormed out of the gates with 39 points in the first quarter, started by Damian Lillard who drained a deep 3-pointer from 30-feet just seconds after tipoff. CJ McCollum added 24 points. This one could really go either way, so while I'm tempted to take the Thunder, I got this series going to seven games, so I'm taking the Trailblazers to secure home-court advantage with another narrow win and cover here behind another big game from Lillard.
The Thunder will be kicking themselves as they could've stole Game 1 if they didn't allow the Trailblazers to get off to such a hot start.
In his first go-round as a member of the Thunder in 2017-18 season, George appeared in 79 regular season games en route to averaging 21.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and an even 2.0 steals over the course of 36.6 minutes per contest. Lillard and McCollum combined to make 7 of 10 shots, including 6 of 8 from the 3-point line, in the first period.
Kanter, signed just before the All-Star break after he was waived by the New York Knick, has started in Nurkic's place.
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.
Seth Curry made consecutive 3-pointers but the Thunder rallied in the final six minutes of the half to trail by just 54-48 at the break.
Westbook's layup got the Thunder within 64-60, but he collected his fourth foul late in the third and went to the bench. Portland went on to lead the opening quarter by as many as 17 points, paced by Lillard with 12 points. "He maintained a high level of play for a long period of time".
"I think we gave him too many open three looks, and that's going to be a concern going into Game 2", Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "Obviously, his rebounding and scoring".