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.
Paul George was two different players this season.
Some of that improvement, at least relative to the matchup with the Rockets, was displayed early in the season when the Jazz claimed the first two meetings with Houston by a total of 38 points.
Kanter, signed just before the All-Star break after he was waived by the New York Knicks, has started in Nurkic's place.
The Thunder's only lead was in the opening quarter.
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. Portland led 39-24 after one, shooting 60 percent from the floor to overwhelm the Thunder in the early going.
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. But they still struggled from 3-point range, making just two of 18 attempts.
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.
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.
There was simmering tension between the teams. Ferguson earned his third foul and headed to the bench.
Game 2 is back at the Moda Centre on Wednesday (NZT). 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.
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.
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. "Obviously, his rebounding and scoring".