Posted on January 2, 2018, by Travis Pulver
When the news broke last year that Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland, fans were shocked. It was not something anyone really saw coming. But what was nearly more surprising was when they were able to pull off a trade that brought one of the hottest scoring threats from last season to town—Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas.
But Thomas had an injury to recover from. Rather than try to rush him into the lineup, the Cavs waited until he was as close to 100 percent as a player can get during the season. He made his season and Cavaliers debut Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
While he only played 19 minutes, he made a great first impression on his new hometown fans. He ended up going 6-12 from the field and 3-8 from three-point range for 17-points. Not off for a guy that hasn’t played in seven months!
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Heading into the game that it would take time for him to get back to the all-star form he displayed last season.
“I know it’s going to take time at first, and we got to go through the steps of going out there and playing in the game and figuring those things out, but once I get comfortable, then all the restrictions got to be off soon,” Thomas said before Tuesday’s game (ESPN).
It was a close game for the majority of the contest. After the first period, the two teams were tied at 28-28. But at the half, it was Portland that held a slim three-point lead, 56-53. However, in the second half, it was clear the Cavaliers were intent on winning. Heading into the final period, they held a four-point lead, 91-87.
In the fourth period, it was all Cleveland. Portland made the first two baskets to tie the game at 91-91. But then the Cavs rattled off a 19-3 run to take a commanding 110-94 lead about midway through the period.
Cleveland went on to win 127-110 to break a three-game losing streak. LeBron James led the way with 24 points followed by Kevin Love with 19-points and Jae Crowder and Thomas with 17-points each. Damian Lillard made his own return from an injury to lead Portland with 25 points.
The win was nice, of course. But what was even nicer was seeing Thomas play without getting hurt again. Cavs head coach plans on taking it easy with him at first. For example, no back-to-backs. This means he’ll be sitting out Wednesday’s game in Boston. Before the game, Lue expressed a desire to see his new superstar get knocked down so he could see him get back up (ESPN):
“Once he hits the floor, gets banged and sees he has no damage or he’s not hurting, I think that will help him get past the mental block of coming back, being out for seven months.”
However, he’ll be in the starting lineup when the Cavs take on the Magic Saturday in Orlando. Portland will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard Friday against the Atlanta Hawks.