So when Celtics team president Danny Ainge turned around and traded him in a deal that helped Boston land Kyrie Irving, Thomas was understandably upset. 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.
Thomas, who before the game said he was excited to show fans what they wanted to see after he missed the first 36 games of the season recovering from a hip injury, did not disappoint. There's a possibility these teams could play up to eight more times this season if they end up as playoff opponents, but this one wasn't memorable. Thomas' tribute video should be one for the ages, and TD Garden can not wait to show their love and gratitude for what Thomas did for them over the last few seasons.
The choice for Boston, however, seemed pretty clear: Deliver no tribute to Isaiah (at least, this year) with virtually no outcome, or interrupt Paul Pierce's historic jersey retirement night to play a video tribute to a guy who said only spent a year with the squad and created a firestorm on his way out.
After losing seven of their first 12 games as they got used to playing together, the Celtics have won 19 of the last 21 and now boast an NBA-best 30 wins to top the eastern conference, while the Cavs are third in the east. T.J. Warren scored 31 and Chriss had 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks for Phoenix. They also had a 74-54 advantage in scoring in the second half.
In the fourth period, it was all Cleveland.
The Heat are three games over.500 for the first time since April 2016 after Kelly Olynyk, Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson each had at least 22 points in a 111-104 victory against Detroit. Once we get the play calls down and run a lot of stuff on the fly, it's going to be great.
James finished with 24 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals to lead Cleveland.
That said, Portland had to be happy about Damian Lillard's form in his return from a five-game absence because of a hamstring injury.
The win was nice, of course.
And Irving knows, even if Thomas is on the bench, what is coming from the crowd.
The reception is exactly what head coach Tyronn Lue anticipated. For example, no back-to-backs.
This also bolsters the Cavs bench since the minutes Thomas plays means fresher legs. "I keep saying that I gave that city everything I had and they showed me genuine love back and I think that love is going to last forever".
Portland are back home for two games starting Saturday morning against Atlanta.
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