Talk going into the NBA Playoffs for the Thunder was about a new and improved Paul George. ‘Playoff P’ was his self-proclaimed nickname and he definitely backed that up after his Game 1 performance.
It was a show, to say the least, and Oklahoma City defeated the Utah Jazz 116-108.
The game really wasn’t that close.
After a very slow start for OKC with the Jazz getting off to an 11-2 lead, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and George decided to elevate their play a tad bit and the rest of the team fell into place. A 12-0 run followed Utah’s and that laid the foundation for the remainder of the game. The big three actually combined for 21 of the team’s 25 first-quarter points.
George netted six points in the first quarter but exploded for 14 in the second, en route to a 20-point half. It was at that moment, that the name Playoff P was deemed legitimate.
Through the second half, Paul danced in front of his defender with the ball, netting shot-after-shot and seemingly not missing. It was resemblant of a streetball game with the way that he played around with the Jazz’s stout defense. Always making things look easy, people often mistake it for being too lackadaisical but he showed tonight that’s just how smooth he is. That’s how easy he makes things look when he’s playing his best brand of basketball.
For the second straight game, George was flirting with 40 points and also for the second straight game, George shot 13-of-20 from the field. Combined, he’s scored 76 points on 26-of-40 shooting (65 percent).
When the big three play at their best, they can’t be beaten. When two of the three have big games, they are extremely difficult to beat. In Game 1, all three played extremely well.
George’s counterparts, Westbrook and Anthony had impressive games themselves. Westbrook finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. He was also a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line. Anthony didn’t score 20 points but exposed Utah as a team that can’t guard him, or George because their wings are simply too small and he’s too quick in the post. Anthony finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. He was effective in so many ways other than scoring the ball which doesn’t necessarily fit his reputation but it works perfectly for OKC.
“They have an incredible coach. Quin is an incredible coach, and I know he is going to make adjustments. But, we have an incredible coach; so he is going to prepare us for game 2, prepare us for what we might see in Game 2. Rely on our principles, rely on what got us through Game 1 and just trusting our system.” –Paul George on carrying this performance to Game 2.
George’s 36 points break the Thunder’s franchise record for most points scored in their playoff debut with the team and hopefully for the Thunder’s sake, it continues. In a season that’s been full of inconsistencies, the Thunder have a good chance to put the critics to bed, especially if George and Co. keep playing like they are.
Game two will be on Wednesday, at 8:00 p.m. in Oklahoma City.