After an encouraging Game 3 home win, things were looking great. The Oklahoma City Thunder would have hoped to replicate that performance in Game 4 and head to Portland for Game 5 with the series all tied up.
Their opposition had other plans.
The Blazers won Game 4 111-98, snapping an eight-game road playoff losing streak in the process, and taking a 3-1 series lead.
Coming back from a 3-1 lead is not impossible. It has been done 11 times in NBA history and thrice in the last four years.
After the loss, Paul George was asked about his message to the team as they travel back to Portland, Oregon for Game 5:
"Honestly, regardless of what the series is, it's always one game at a time. You play one game, you leave everything in one game and you go to the next one. So, makes no difference that we are down 3-1 but we got to take it one game at a time regardless."
Paul George finished with a stat line of 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists but his efficiency was below the level that he had established in the regular season, at least up until the All-Star break.
He shot 8-of-21 from the field (38.1%) and turned the ball over four times. He did, however, have a relatively positive impact on the game, as he was a -2 (best among OKC starters) in his 37 minutes on the court.
When asked about what stat from the Game 4 would the Thunder like to change in Game 5, George started simple and then elaborated:
"Points. Score more points. Honestly, that's what we got to do. Defensively, we are going to be locked in. For us, it's about rhythm. We'll get into the flow, we'll get into the rhythm and the ball will find it's way in the hole. We just got to keep at it."
In all three series losses, the Thunder have failed to crack 100 points. Speaking about the Blazers' defence, especially in the paint, George further added:
"They [Portland Trail Blazers] just packed the paint. That's how every team tries to guard us. Load up on us."
During the regular season, the Thunder averaged 51.8 points in the paint, good for sixth-best in the league. However, through four games in this series so far, the Blazers have only allowed them 41.0 points in the paint, which ranks the Thunder 12th among the 16 playoff teams.
On Wednesday, the Thunder look to keep their season alive in a must-win Game 5 at the Moda Center in Portland.