THUNDERNOTES: For best friends Kanter and Adams, the playoffs are a 'war'

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter (00) dunks over his best friend, Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams, right, in the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, April 19, 2019, in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY — The phrase “all's fair in love and war,” may aptly describe the relationship between best friends Steven Adams and Enes Kanter.

Once teammates in Oklahoma City, they’ve been opposing each other for three playoff games now and a case can be made that Kanter, Portland’s center, though not overwhelmingly, has gotten the best of it.

His team leads the series 2-1 heading into tonight’s 8:30 p.m. Game 4 tip, and he’s averaging 15 points and 9.3 rebounds, compared to Adams’ 14.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.

More interesting, though, is the dynamic of two best friends having to put their personal relationship aside as they take each other on.

Kanter addressed the oddness of having to battle his best friend in the heat of the postseason.

“It did feel strange, the first two games, but I mean, now, it’s a war out their man,” he said. “There’s no friends, there’s not being brothers or anything. All we do is just go out there and try to win the series.”

Apparently, by any means necessary.

“He’s going to try everything to get under my skin and I’m going to try everything to get under his skin,” Kanter said. “And, like I said, after the series, we’ll be back to being best friends. But right now, there’s no being friends. It’s a war.”

• Good theory, bad theory?: On the idea that Oklahoma City can’t expect to get again what it got offensively in Game 3 from the trio of Jerami Grant, Terrance Ferguson and Dennis Schroder — 44 points on 14 of 23 shooting and 9 of 12 3-point shooting — and certainly not three more times this series, Kanter deflected the question, but Portland’s CJ McCollum engaged.

“[Grant] was just making some tough crazy shots … But, I think, I don’t really want to worry about what they’re going to do,” Kanter said. “I think it’s just go out there and play our basketball.”

McCollum answered differently.

“The flow of every game is different, but … I like our chances [when they’re] depending on Dennis Schroder, whoever else you named, to play like that,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job defending them, but at the same time, we know what our game plan is. We’ve got to continue to execute and we’re going to do that.”

• Getting physical, emotional: A couple different times in Game 2, it appeared the emotions of the players might reach a place that would cause them to need to be restrained. In the final seconds, it appeared OKC coach Billy Donovan subbed out for Russell Westbrook just to make certain a moment wouldn’t escalate.

Donovan’s take?

“It’s going to happen,” he said. “I mean, listen, this time of year, you see that, I think, in a lot of series. The big thing is being focused in each possession. Our focus is to go out there and pay good basketball.”

• Tip-ins: The Thunder finished with 27 assists on 37 made baskets in Game 3, for a 73 percent assist percentage. Golden State led the league in assist percentage over the regular season at 66.8 … OKC was outrebounded Friday, 41 to 37, but committed fewer turnovers than Portland, 15 to 18 … Westbrook was hit with his first technical foul of the playoffs with 41 seconds remaining to play … Portland’s Maurice Harmless was ejected with 19 seconds remaining.