The Oklahoma City Thunder take game one against the Utah Jazz 116-108 in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Paul George told the media earlier in the week that come playoff time he becomes someone else, that something is Playoff P, and boy did Playoff P ever show up. George has been struggling since the All-Star break, but he has shaken that off with his performance tonight as he went for 36 points on 65 percent shooting from the field and 72.7 percent from three-point range.
George was incredible for the Thunder, but he was not alone as he was backed up by reigning MVP winner Russell Westbrook who had a solid night going for 29 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. For the Jazz, they answered a big question in game one which was can rookie Donovan Mitchell bring his incredible first regular season into the playoffs, and the answer was an emphatic YES! Mitchell did a phenomenal job for the Jazz finishing with 27 points on 50 percent shooting while bringing down 10 rebounds.
Playoff P in OKC
Paul George was phenomenal in his first playoff game for the Thunder. George sorry Playoff P finished game one giving the Thunder 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting at 65 percent and an incredible 8-of-11 from three-point range at 72.7 percent. It wasn’t just on the offensive side of the game that George impacted he also did a tremendous job on the defensive side of the ball guarding the Utah Jazz best shooter Joe Ingles restricting him to nine total shots for the game and 3-of-5 from three-point range. George limiting and frustrating Ingles it made the Jazz’s offense change, and if it wasn’t for Ricky Rubio hitting some tough shots, the Jazz could have lost by a lot more. The Thunder needed this performance out of George, and they are hoping it wasn’t just a one time show and that Playoff P can stick around for a while.
Playoff P DOES exist. Wow.— A. Suave Francisco (@SuaveFrancisco_) April 15, 2018
Free throw shooting
The Oklahoma City Thunder were the 29th ranked team in the NBA for free-throw shooting with a percentage of 71.5 for the regular season. Against the Utah Jazz in game one of the first round playoff series, the Thunder shot an impressive 87 percent with the only misses coming at the end of the game when the Jazz fouled Thunder big man Steven Adams who missed two consecutive free-throws and Carmelo Anthony who split late free-throws. The free-throw line is where the Thunder came through big in game one in patches throughout the game the Thunder’s offense dried up, and they managed to get to the free-throw line and keep the scoreboard ticking over until they could find their shot again. If the Thunder can keep this free-throw form up it can be so beneficial with how this teams offense can dry up in patches throughout games.
First missed free throw for OKC comes with 44 seconds left. They're 18-19 on the night.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 16, 2018
The Thunder were red hot from three-point range hitting 14 three-pointers with George hitting eight of those and Alex Aribines coming up huge off the bench hitting three three-pointers the Thunder shot 48.3 percent from behind the arc. The Thunder managed to string multiple three-pointers together never to let the Jazz back into the game which was important. The Jazz was shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and did an excellent job of answering every basket the Thunder were making it’s just the Thunder managed to string multiple big shots together to go along with Russell Westbrook making some incredibly tough shots. The Thunder shooting 48.3 percent from three-point range is not going to be something that can consistently done throughout this series. But George shooting 11 times from three and Carmelo Anthony taking seven shots from three-point range can be. Also, Westbrook limiting himself to under five when he is hitting his shot from range is a perfect recipe for this Thunder offense to be playing well.
Alex Abrines is shooting 3-5 from three for 11 points. Paul George is shooting 13-19 (8-11 from three) for 36 points.— A. Suave Francisco (@SuaveFrancisco_) April 16, 2018
Looking after the ball
The Thunder were reckless with the Basketball in the first half, in particular, Russell Westbrook who had four turnovers at halftime. The Thunder as a collective had 10 turnovers for the half with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony having two each. George turned the ball over with his attempts at using his handles to create space and get past defenders led him to turn the ball over. For Westbrook, it was trying to force passes that just weren’t there like they were in the regular season. Looking after the ball needs to be a priority for the Thunder in this series and moving forward in the playoffs.
Jazz fast break points
The Utah Jazz scored 21 fast break points against the Thunder in game one with 10 of those points coming in the first quarter. The Jazz averaged 10.2 fast break points per game in the regular season which made them the 23rd ranked team for the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder were the fourth-ranked team with an average of 15.2 points per game they managed to score 22 fast break points in this game. The Jazz did a fantastic job of capitalizing on the Thunders lack of ball security in the first quarter scoring nine of their 10 first quarter fast breakpoints inside the first three minutes of the first quarter helping the Jazz go out to an early 11-2 lead.