NBA Playoffs: Portland Trail Blazers vs. OKC Thunder preview

The Portland Trail Blazers face the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Moda Center in Portland Oregon on Thursday

The Portland Trail Blazers face the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Moda Center in Portland Oregon on Thursday

Kanter backed up point guard Damian Lillard's game-high 30 points with 20 points and a career playoff-high 18 rebounds as the third-seeded Blazers opened their series against the No 6 Thunder with a 104-99 victory on Monday (NZT).

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. The Thunder defense was again good, holding the Blazers to just 37 percent shooting and 0-of-1 from three, but Kanter contributed six points and six rebounds in the third to keep pace. Portland went on to lead the opening quarter by as many as 17 points, paced by Lillard with 12 points.

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. 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.

Portland is a team that's been hit by injuries in a big way.

How could the Blazers replace his nightly double-doubles? "Obviously, his rebounding and scoring".

It was loud, too.

Kanter scored on a left-handed drive with 11.4 seconds left to push Portland ahead 100-94. Plays like these caused Lillard to refer to the 26-year-old centre as "the MVP for us tonight".

The Blazers' hopes for postseason success were dealt a blow last month when center Jusuf Nurkic was lost for the season with a broken left leg. Nurkic was averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds when he sustained the gruesome injury during a game against the Brooklyn Nets. Lillard iced the verdict with two more at the line with 1.9 seconds remaining. Adams led the way with 13 points in the first half, Westbrook added 10-8-7, and the Thunder were within striking distance despite George's 9 points on 3-of-14 from the field. 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. Bill Walton did it three times and LaMarcus Aldridge once.

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