4 min read

Monday Bolts: 4.16.18

Nick Gallo recaps the Thunder’s Game 1 victory over Utah: “Embracing the moment, George ripped off a Thunder playoff record 8 three-pointers on 11 attempts, en route to a 36-point game. Besides suffering a hip contusion and missing the closing minutes of the Thunder’s 116-108 victory over Utah to hold serve, George could hardly have delivered a better playoff debut in Oklahoma City. “They’re going to give me perimeter shots or they’re going to give me midrange shots. Just take them and just be decisive on setting it up and looking for those opportunities,” George said. “Obviously I was hot tonight, but that’s the level I’m going to bring it every night.”

Royce Young on the emergence of Playoff P: “Two days ago, Paul George started an answer to a question about the responsibility of guarding Donovan Mitchell while maintaining his offensive aggressiveness and stopped himself. “Y’all ain’t met Playoff P yet, huh?” George said with a smile. George, who has made a name for himself with sparkling playoff performances, had set himself up. With the memes probably chambered and ready, George was either going to live up to it or feel the wrath. With 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting, including 8-of-11 on 3-pointers (an OKC franchise record in the playoffs) as the Oklahoma City Thunder took Game 1 against the Utah Jazz 116-108, Playoff P showed up.”

Joseph Zucker (B/R) on Paul George’s hip contusion: “Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George suffered a right hip contusion in his team’s 116-108 playoff victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, ESPN.com’s Royce Young reported. George will have the hip evaluated Monday to determine the extent of the injury.”

Tyler Conway (B/R) on Donovan Mitchell’s toe injury: “Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell left Sunday’s Game 1 matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder after suffering an injury to his left pinkie toe. Mitchell, 21, went down in the third quarter but later returned to the game. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported X-rays came back negative. After the game, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Mitchell is experiencing some soreness, according to Royce Young of ESPN.com. Mitchell had an MRI on his left foot that came back negative as well, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, who added he’s going to play in Game 2 Wednesday.”

Paolo Ugetti (Ringer) on Playoff P: “No single player on one of the best defenses in the league could contain George, let alone stop him. On defense, George made Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles uncomfortable, and he even guarded Rudy Gobert on a couple switches. It was a two-way clinic, and a boon for the Thunder given that George looked shaky at the end of the regular season. This performance had shades of Indiana Paul George, and was more like what OKC expected when it traded for him in the offseason.”

Berry Tramel on the OK3 making difficult shots to open up the offense in Game 1: “The Thunder had 54 points and a six-point lead and was glad to have both against the stingy Jazz, considering Utah led 16-4 almost six minutes into the game. OKC is fortunate that its stars made tough shots. And fortunate to have that kind of shot making. But no way it can be sustained. Not in the playoffs. Not against the Jazz. So, more than just victory emerged from the Thunder’s 116-108 Game 1 survival. Good news came in the form of solving a little of the vaunted Utah defense.”

Jenni Carlson on if the Thunder can keep up the winning effort: “Just because the switch was flipped in Game 1 doesn’t mean it will stay in the “ON” position in Game 2. We can’t say that the Thunder has everything figured out. The sample size is just too small. Still, you’d much rather have a small sample size that is positive instead of negative. “We buckled down defensively,” Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony said, “and we found what we needed offensively.” It was the defense that fed the offense. After Utah got off to a hot start and an early 16-4 lead — haven’t we seen that slow-start movie enough this season? — OKC forced tougher shots. Not as many drives to the rim. Not as many easy looks. That fed a 12-0 run that erased Utah’s early lead.”

Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood podcast recaps Game 1: “The Brandons are back! Brandon Rahbar and David Brandon of DailyThunder.com discuss all things OKC’s big Game 1 win, including Playoff P and Adams vs Gobert.”

Eric Woodyard (Deseret News) on the similar stories for Billy Donovan and Jazz coach Quin Snyder: “Both men are in their early 50s. Quin Snyder is 51. Billy Donovan is 52. Both guys are NBA head coaches. Snyder coaches the Utah Jazz. Donovan is the sideline leader for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both even experienced college basketball under legendary coaches. Snyder for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke; Donovan for Rick Pitino at Providence. Both had to work their way through the college coaching ranks before ultimately leading their respective NBA teams into a 2018 first-round playoff series against each other. And the similarities between Snyder and Donovan could go on and on and on.”

Christopher Reive (New Zealand Herald) on Steven Adams’ historic season: “Mark Steven Adams’ fifth season in the NBA down as one for the record books. Given a bigger role in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s offence, and anchoring the defence, the big Kiwi went from role player to elite centre in the space of 82 games. And, after the season was said and done, the 24-year-old joined the ranks of elite offensive rebounders, becoming just the 12th player in NBA history to average five or more per game for an entire season.”

Around the League: Victor Oladipo and the Pacers took Game 1 over the Cavs…. James Harden powered the Rockets past the Wolves…. The wild finish and ultimate Celtics victory over Milwaukee…. Coach Pop had an awkward response when asked about the availability of Kawhi Leonard…. Zach Lowe picks his All-NBA teams…. The Ringer’s 2018 NBA Draft guide.