Following the Portland Trail Blazers Game One win over the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-99, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Enes Kanter, and Coach Terry Stotts spoke with the press. Lillard led the team with 30 points, while CJ McCollum had 24, and Enes Kanter contributed 20 points alongside 18 rebounds.
- Lillard stated that the team wanted to come out strong in Game One, saying “we gotta be the team that delivers the first blow.”
- Following a question about Enes Kanter’s performance, Lillard explained that a player always wants to do well against former teammates, and said that Kanter was the MVP of the game, giving the Blazers “second chances, third chances.”
- Lillard said that he “knew it was going to be a fight all night long” in fending off Oklahoma City’s runs.
- Asked about his health, Lillard replied that he felt fine, though he sustained a bump from an elbow to the cheekbone, and said he is still swollen around his eye. He continued on to say that the playoffs are physical, and there is time between games to heal up from bumps and bruises.
- Lillard spoke at length about what Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu bring to the court, noting that their defensive performances typically don’t show up in the box score, but that he told them today that he “loved” what they do for the team.
Blazers' Damian Lillard on Enes Kanter (20 points, 18 rebounds) in Game 1 win over Thunder: "He was the MVP of the game." pic.twitter.com/7xR0XHQDx4— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 14, 2019
- Kanter said that he believed Billy Donovan when his former coach said he didn’t say “can’t play Kanter.”
- He stated one of his goals was to attack their pick and roll, to take it to the next level, and that it involved watching hours and hours of film.
- Asked about his former teammates, Kanter said that he had tried to speak with Steven Adams before the game, but got no response.
- Asked about his performance, Kanter spoke about how “communication and trust” leads to success in the pick and roll.
- Following the game, Kanter talked with Neil Olshey, who told Kanter that bringing him to Portland was a great decision. Kanter said thank you, noting that he feels blessed to play in Portland after being benched in New York.
- He noted that the Blazers need to play with more toughness next time, saying, “It’s a war out there--can’t be nice to my ex-friends.”
Blazers' Enes Kanter (20 points, 18 rebounds in Game 1) on playing the Thunder, his former team: "It did feel very awkward and very weird. ... I was very nervous before the game. I tried to talk to Steven [Adams] and he didn't even look at me." pic.twitter.com/bqQqGXKQQd— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 14, 2019
- Asked about trash talk, McCollum stated that he will do “whatever it takes to get our team going.” He noted that trash talk is still part of a clean basketball game.
- Reflecting on Enes Kanter’s performance, McCollum said that they just give Kanter the ball, trust him to make decisions, to finish around the basket, and to rebound, explaining that his teammate puts in the work, communicates with his teammate, and showed his versatility in the game.
- McCollum said they know this year what it will take to get over the hump in the playoffs.
- He explained that turnovers were a problem in this game, and elaborated by saying, “[Oklahoma City] were able to get out and run on our turnovers.”
- Asked if he had any words for Jennifer, McCollum replied, “Nah, man. I appreciate her. She’s probably a nice young lady.”
Coach Terry Stotts
- Stotts took note of Enes Kanter’s performance inside.
- He critiqued the team’s perimeter defense, noting that Paul George got too many looks at open threes, and that they will have to do better in the next game.
- He spoke about Kanter’s bad rap on defense, stating that he felt it was “unfortunate” that players got those kinds of reputations that followed them from team to team whether they deserved it or not, and pointed out that Kanter hung with Adams on the block, in the pick and roll defense, and gave great effort.
- He also mentioned that he appreciated the effort by Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu on defense, noting that what they do for the team doesn’t show in the box score, as they bring their best effort every night.