Damian Lillard on Kanter's contributions in Game 1. George had 26 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals, but shot just 8-of-24 from the field and 4-of-15 from three.
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.
"With me, it's just rhythm".
After helping the Portland Trail Blazers exorcise their playoff demons, Enes Kanter strolled toward the Moda Center home locker room when a familiar face stopped him before he reached the double doors.
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.
After trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half, Oklahoma City pulled within as 93-92 on George's 3-pointer with 2:44 left. Lillard answered with a long 3-pointer to keep the Blazers ahead and Al-Farouq Aminu made free throws to extend Portland's lead to 98-92. "We came into this series knowing we have to be the team that delivers the first blow, we had to come out and be aggressive and have that attitude that we're going to be here all night".
"I tried to talk to Steven before the game and he didn't even look at me", Kanter said.
"We know how it feels to win again", Lillard said. Oklahoma City still boasts one of the better defensive teams in basketball, ranking fourth in the league in defensive efficiency. 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. For the game, he made four of 15 3-point attempts. But Kanter, signed just before the All-Star break after being waived by the New York Knick, has proven ad admirable fill-in.
In the closing minutes of a game that could have gone either way, Kanter rescued the Blazers, snaring back-to-back offensive rebounds to save possessions in the final 91 seconds before making the play of the game. The Blazers went into the fourth quarter with a 76-69 lead. "They won the first game", Westbrook said.
The Thunder have not gotten past the opening round of the playoffs for the past two seasons. You could nearly feel Thunder coach Billy Donovan - who had once famously mouthed the words "Can't play Kanter" in a playoff game against the Houston Rockets - grinning on the visiting bench.
"A lot of times, you get a reputation and the reputation kind of sticks with you, whether you deserve it or not", Stotts said.