The Oklahoma City Thunder’s star players both underwent surgery after their season ended, according to a report.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared that Paul George underwent shoulder surgery on Tuesday. George is expected to undergo two different shoulder surgeries this offseason, one on each shoulder. He had rotator cuff surgery to repair a partially torn tendon in his right shoulder. Woj says George will also undergo surgery to repair a small tear in the labrum of his left shoulder.
The shoulder injuries will likely keep George out for at least the start of training camp.
George suffered the right shoulder injury on Feb. 26 against the Denver Nuggets. The Thunder were 38-21 at the time but dropped to 11-12 after his injury. George’s shooting percentages and scoring declined after the injury. He went through a difficult time in the playoffs while battling the injury.
In addition to George, Russell Westbrook also underwent a procedure to repair a torn ligament in his finger on his left hand. Woj reports that Westbrook played the final six weeks of the season with the injury and never went public about it. He also underwent some maintenance surgery on his right knee — the same one that caused him to miss some time at the start of the season.
The Thunder’s season ended up April 23 after a Game 5 loss to the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs.
It has not taken a lot of time for the NBA playoffs to produce some incredibly memorable and elite performances. The first round alone offered a whole lot of signature moments for the game’s leading stars, and the second round has gotten off to a running start in that regard as well.
Which players have led the charge? Here are the top ten performers in the NBA playoffs so far.
10. C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard got the majority of the headlines for Portland, and deservedly so, but McCollum has stepped up his game in the playoffs to help his teammate along. When the Trail Blazers won, he was usually in the middle of it. In Portland’s two most lopsided wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, McCollum had his two best scoring games of the playoffs, contributing 33 and 27 points. His 23 points per game is the 12th-best mark in the playoffs, ahead of the likes of top scoring guards Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan.
Paul George had no problem with the game-winning shot Damian Lillard hit over him to send the Portland Trail Blazers to the second round of the playoffs, as the Oklahoma City Thunder star felt he did all he could do to defend a “bad shot.” Lillard, however, views it much, much differently.
Lillard discussed his deep three-pointer during an appearance on the “Pull Up” podcast this week, and he said he has made a conscious effort to add those long-range shots to his arsenal so defenders have something else to think about. Not only is he “comfortable” with the shot, but he feels George should have defended him differently since there were only two seconds left on the clock.
Really appreciate the man himself, @Dame_Lillard, joining @CJMcCollum and me. An honest, emotional, raw all-around conversation. In this clip,
Dame breaks down “the shot,” and why he had the confidence to both take – and make – his dagger from the logo⌚️@PullUpPod @trailblazers pic.twitter.com/DNRtRieNV7
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) April 25, 2019
“To me, it’s a solid shot. For him to say it’s a bad shot, that’s just kind of being a poor sport,” Lillard said. “It was bad defense, because I had the ball in my hand with two seconds. I wasn’t gonna drive, so maybe he should have just bodied me up.”
George obviously didn’t want to risk putting Lillard at the free throw line, and it didn’t look like there was much more he could have done to prevent the 36-foot shot. That said, calling it a “bad shot” might be a stretch, because Lillard actually converted on 8-of-12 shots from 30 feet and beyond during the series.
Lillard had a much more subtle response initially when George criticized his shot selection, but he has every right to call out his opponent after making a play like that.
Paul George was not impressed with the shot selection on Damian Lillard’s series-clinching three-pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, and Lillard seems quite amused by that.
George was the one defending Lillard when the Portland Trail Blazers star buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to send his team to the next round of the playoffs. There was nothing more George could have done, as Lillard chose to put up a shot from about 36 feet out. Following the game, George called it a “bad shot.”
"That's a bad shot. I don't care what anybody says. That's a bad shot. But, hey, he made it. That story won't be told, that it is a bad shot. You live with that." – Paul George on Damian Lillard's game winner.
Dame was 8 of 12 from 30+ feet in the series. 4 of 6 in GM5. pic.twitter.com/YTZRIaztKT
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 24, 2019
Lillard made 8-of-12 shots from 30 feet or beyond in the series against OKC, so it is clearly a better shot for him than most. He also knew that the game was tied and the worst-case scenario was going to overtime, so that probably was a factor in his decision to launch such a deep attempt. When Lillard caught wind of what George said about the shot, he had a very simple response.
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) April 24, 2019
There is plenty of bad blood between the Thunder and Blazers, and Lillard’s reaction after hitting his series-winner was a reflection of that. Even if his shot came from half court, it got the job done. That’s something George and his OKC teammates will have to live with until next season.
Paul George added an extra element of intrigue to the Portland Trail Blazers-Oklahoma City Thunder playoff series with a gratuitous act at the end of the contest.
As the seconds were ticking down on the clock with the Thunder up 120-108 in Game 3 on Friday night, George styled with a fancy reverse dunk:
— No Baseball Podcast (@nobaseballpod) April 20, 2019
The dunk was waved off for coming after the buzzer, but that didn’t stop tensions from rising. Players met at halfcourt and discussed matters, with some Portland players, like Evan Turner, apparently irritated.
George was asked about the dunk after the game and didn’t answer, saying “next question.” Damian Lillard said he “couldn’t care less” about the dunk, suggesting that the Thunder felt they needed it to pump themselves up.
Lillard weighs in on George's dunk after the horn: "I couldn't care less… if that something they need to do to make themselves feel more dominant, feel better, than so be it." #ripcity pic.twitter.com/5yNdHJpARg
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) April 20, 2019
Lillard was wise not to say anything and give the Thunder or media bulletin-board material, but you better believe he and the Blazers will come out with some fire in Game 4 after that and the other taunts they took.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George says he is not impacted by any injury issues ahead of Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
George said his right shoulder is pain-free, and injury problems are not an issue for him.
Paul George, wearing an ice bag on his right shoulder, says he’s pain free. “It’s well enough now to throw out any injury problems.” pic.twitter.com/wUTdIZDQes
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) April 15, 2019
George scored 26 points in Game 1, but did so on 8-of-24 shooting and went 4-of-15 from three-point range. His injury sounded pretty severe recently, but he denied that it was the issue behind his lackluster performance. That will be met with skepticism, but if George looks sharper in Game 2, the questions should evaporate fairly quickly.
Paul George played in Game 1 Sunday of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers, though he didn’t look quite right.
George shot just 8/24 including 4/15 on threes as the Thunder lost Game 1 104-99 to Portland. He entered the game questionable due to his shoulder, which also kept him out of the Thunder’s regular season finale.
Just how bad has George’s shoulder injury been? According to Royce Young, George said he couldn’t lift his shoulder as of a few days ago.
George says he wasn't feeling any issues physically, but more it was a rhythm issue.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 14, 2019
Even if George denies being physically limited in the game, he seemed off, and the shoulder injury likely is the reason. This is the same issue that kept him out three games in late February/early March as well.
George made it clear before the series that he might not be at 100 percent, and it seems to have shown.