The Thunder will be kicking themselves as they could've stole Game 1 if they didn't allow the Trailblazers to get off to such a hot start.
Westbrook netted a triple-double in the finish with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while George dropped 26 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in the 104-99 loss.
In just his ninth start with the Blazers, Kanter became just the third player in team history with at least 20 points and 18 rebounds in playoff game.
"I am just glad we got a win".
Kanter has stepped right into the lineup and delivered quality minutes for the Trail Blazers, and on Sunday afternoon, he was key in their Game 1 win over the Thunder.
The Blazers have endured a miserable record in the playoffs in recent years, suffering back-to-back first round sweeps in 2017 and 2018 against Golden State and New Orleans.
Portland led by as many as 19 points in the first half, but the Thunder pulled within 80-77 early in the fourth quarter.
George's slump wasn't because the Blazers were locking down the 3-point line, and Portland was honest enough to admit it. This one could really go either way, so while I'm tempted to take the Thunder, I got this series going to seven games, so I'm taking the Trailblazers to secure home-court advantage with another narrow win and cover here behind another big game from Lillard.
It was the first postseason meeting between the teams since the Thunder moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Four days ago I couldn't even lift my shoulder. Westbrook led the way for OKC, finishing with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists on 8-of-17 shooting.
Kanter, signed just before the All-Star break after he was waived by the New York Knicks, has started in Nurkic's place. They'll come out with more of a sense of urgency in Game 2 to avoid falling behind by two games.
Thunder: While the Thunder swept the Blazers 4-0 during the regular season, Portland swept them in four games the season before. The Blazers went into the fourth quarter with a 76-69 lead. The Blazers haven't made it out of the first round for the past two seasons.
In the closing minutes of a game that could have gone either way, Kanter rescued the Blazers, snaring back-to-back offensive rebounds to save possessions in the final 91 seconds before making the play of the game.
"He gave us a lot of toughness inside", Stotts said.
"Any time you're going up against a team you played for, in the most important series of the year, you're going to want to play well", Lillard said.
Game 1 is set for Sunday at 2:30 pm central time at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.