The long-awaited Isaiah Thomas debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t come against the Celtics. Instead, I.T. makes his season debut against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
Isaiah will suit up for the Cavs for the first time on Tuesday and sit out Wednesday’s game against the Celtics, according to head coach Tyronn Lue. The former C’s guard won’t start on Tuesday and he also won’t play any back-to-backs for now.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Lue tempered expectations for Isaiah’s return – possibly for Isaiah himself.
“It’s gonna be a process – getting in shape, his timing. So [Isaiah] can’t get frustrated thinking it’s just gonna happen overnight,” said Lue. “But we’re very excited to have him back.”
Isaiah Thomas Debut: The Long Road Back
Isaiah last played an NBA game on May 19, 2017 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavs. He scored just two points on 0-for-6 shooting from the field in the team’s 130-86 blowout loss.
Since that night, Isaiah has been recovering from a hip injury that he initially tried to play through before shutting it down. He avoided surgery, but still had to sit out the first two and a half months of the Cavs’ season.
Isaiah also got diagnosed with a torn labrum over the summer, which only further complicated his recovery. Given his ailments and long time off, Isaiah will play under a minutes restriction to start.
What It Means For The Celtics
The news certainly disappoints fans who hoped for the much-anticipated Isaiah Thomas debut to happen in Boston. In addition, it’s hard to imagine that Isaiah would want to come off the bench on a minutes limit in his first game against the C’s. But it’s unclear that the Celtics played any role in the decision to start him against Portland instead. That still won’t stop plenty of onlookers to potentially make claim otherwise.
Barring another injury, this all-but guarantees that Isaiah plays against the Celtics on Feb. 11 at TD Garden. It’s likely that he’s starting and playing without restrictions by that point. Considering how scorned he seems about the trade to this day, you can expect him to get plenty of chances to make the C’s pay.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff.