Isaiah Thomas has been on the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ roster for a few months. Despite this, he had never suited up for the team until Wednesday night, making his debut in front of the Quicken Loans Arena crowd. And in a sign of support for their new star, Cavs fans gave Thomas a warm welcome.
All of this was nice, but of course, there was still a game to play. And it wasn’t against a group of scrubs, as Cleveland was hosting a Portland side that is in the playoff hunt out west and just received Damian Lillard back from a spell on the sideline with an injury.
The Cavs did exactly what they needed to do, both with regards to the game (a 127-110 win) and Thomas, as Tyronn Lue decided to slowly fold him into the rotation and have him play 19 minutes.
The thing with Thomas, though, is he does not do things slowly. He goes fast, he attacks, and he does whatever he has to do to get an edge. All of this was on display in his return, because not only did Thomas take 12 shots in 19 minutes, but he ended his shift with a very respectable 17 points, including a layup that sure as heck made it look like he hasn’t been sidelined for months.
This is as good of a debut as Thomas could have wanted, as he got buckets in limited minutes and provided an offensive shot in the arm to an already dangerous Cleveland team. Far more importantly, we got a glimpse of how dangerous a team the Cavaliers can be with Thomas on the floor.
In his 19-minute shift, Thomas registered a +17. That’s a really small sample size, sure, but based on his time as the catalyst for Boston’s offensive attack last season, it was a sign that Thomas can be really, really dangerous once he gets his bearings about him in Cleveland.
That’s the part that should have Cavs fans so excited. Thomas played this game with a ton of rust on him, and yet he still produced at a high level in a short amount of time. He even admitted that he still has a way to go before he’s the guy who was a second-team All-NBA selection last season.
“I mean, my hip is better but I have no rhythm,” Thomas said, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I have no feel for the game right now. I’ve been out for so long it feels like I lost my powers. So even when we’re out there scrimmaging, I can move around and do what I want but I just don’t have my powers yet.”
No one knows if the addition of Thomas will help Cleveland take down Golden State in an NBA Finals matchup. In fact, no one knows if he’d help them get out of the East. Time will tell on both of those things. But what we do know is that the mercurial point guard’s first test in the wine and gold could not have gone any better, and as he tells it, his best is still on the horizon.
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