After trading for Isaiah Thomas on Aug. 30, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to wait patiently for the newest All-Star point guard to get healthy. He had been dealing with a hip injury since last May, and no one in the organization wanted him to rush back. Months passed, and Tuesday was the first time Thomas appeared in a Cavaliers uniform.
“It’s been a long journey for me,” said Thomas after the game. “I couldn’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel. For that day to come the first couple days of 2018, it’s going to be a special year.”
There were still precautions taken. Tyronn Lue, who opposed the trade at first, allocated just 19 minutes to the 5-9 guard. In that time, however, Thomas showed us that he was, in fact, almost 100 percent healthy. He poured in 17 points and was 6-of-12 from the field. More importantly, his game didn’t look entirely out of whack, and the Cavaliers graciously let him do whatever so he could get his powers back.
Thomas walked onto the court with 4:33 left in the first and cracked an ear-to-ear grin as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. About 20 seconds later, he produced his first points with the new team. Jae Crowder, whom he played with in Boston, gave a screen on the right wing and converted the layup off of Thomas’ pass.
A couple of minutes later, LeBron James set up the first bucket of Isaiah’s tenure. He came around a Tristian Thompson pick and nailed a one-dribble pullup from 14 feet. Only good things happened from there.
Some seconds later, Thomas dropped in a layup after Shabazz Napier got whistled for a foul on the drive. Following that, it was a barrage of jumpers from various distances.
There’s still some time before Isaiah Thomas gets his rhythm back. He shot just 3-of-8 from three, and he didn’t look as explosive as last year. However, those are the issues that are expected upon returning from injury, mainly when it’s a joint that plays a huge role in your game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ next game is Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics in Boston, which Thomas will not play in.
Gregg Popovich won his 1,176th game as coach of the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, giving him sole possession of fifth place on the all-time wins list. He trails Pat Riley (1,210), Jerry Sloan (1,221), Lenny Wilkens (1,332) and Don Nelson (1,335).
Devin Booker nailed five free throws in the final 12.3 seconds of the Phoenix Suns‘ 104-103 come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Hawks. He had 34 points overall, the third time eclipsing it since returning from injury.
POR 110 - 127 CLE SAS 100 - 91 NYK
ATL 103 - 104 PHX CHA 131 - 111 SAC
MEM 105 - 113 LAC