That's why it was concerning to hear George talk after the game about the health of his shoulder and how Game 1 was the first time he'd shot in days after not being able to lift his shoulder four days prior.
Despite trailing by as many as 19, and for all but 23 seconds of the game, the Thunder hung around in the fourth quarter - getting within three on a Dennis Schroder three-pointer at the 9-minute mark.
Meanwhile, the Portland Trailblazers got swept by the Thunder in the regular season, but you wouldn't know that from the way they played as they stormed out of the gates with 39 points in the first quarter, started by Damian Lillard who drained a deep 3-pointer from 30-feet just seconds after tipoff.More news: Finnish Social Democrat leader Rinne declares victory in election
McCollum scored 16 points and Lillard added 12 as the Blazers carried a 54-48 lead into intermission.
George hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Houston on the next-to-last game of the regular season Tuesday, but he aggravated a previous injury during the game and did not play in the regular-season finale Wednesday at Milwaukee.
The Thunder have been to the playoffs for eight of the last nine seasons, but they haven't gotten past the opening round for the past two.More news: Giuliani: Going to See 'No Collusion' From Mueller Report
He finished with 30 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals while scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter alone to assure that his team would defend home court and pick up the win. But Kanter, signed just before the All-Star break after being waived by the New York Knick, has proven ad admirable fill-in.
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. The Thunder did not make any of their six 3-point attempts, while Portland was 7 of 10. Ferguson earned his third foul and headed to the bench.
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.More news: Virat Kohli 'very lucky' to be retained as RCB captain - Gautam Gambhir
"I think we gave him too many open three looks, and that's going to be a concern going into Game 2", Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.