Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
CLEVELAND – Former Boston Celtics guard and fan-favorite Isaiah Thomas is slated to make his long-awaited Cleveland debut Tuesday when the Cavaliers host the Portland Trail Blazers. Thomas has been recovering from a hip injury suffered in the 2017 playoffs, and his first Cleveland appearance comes four months after he was acquired in the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics.
Thomas is not expected to play in Boston when the Cavaliers visit on Wednesday.
Thomas averaged a career-best 28.9 points for the Celtics last season and he is ecstatic to return to the court. “It’s been a long process for me,” Thomas told reporters after Monday’s practice. “It’s been a frustrating and tough process but at the same time you got to trust it. Each and every day, I just attacked it every day to try to get better and now that day is here.” Thomas also will look to help the Cavaliers halt a three-game losing streak – all on the road – and help the squad stretch its home floor winning streak to 13. Portland has won three of its last four games after producing a 124-120 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday and is expected to get star guard Damian Lillard (hamstring) back after a five-game absence.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Northwest (Portland), FS Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (19-17): Shooting guard CJ McCollum has topped 30 points in two of the past three contests and his 32 points against the Bulls came on substandard 11-of-30 shooting. McCollum drained five 3-pointers and registered a season-best eight assists and he wasn’t too thrilled about his team being scheduled on a road back-to-back while an angry Cleveland squad last played Saturday. “We know they’re going to come out with lot of energy, having two days rest,” McCollum told reporters. “The NBA didn’t do us any favors.”
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (24-12): Coach Tyronn Lue said Thomas will come off the bench Tuesday and his minutes will be watched closely as he gets himself into game shape. “Now it’s finally here and just seeing how he can play with pace and getting into the paint, the speed and quickness and ability to shoot the basketball, it really changes our team,” Lue told reporters. “Really excited (in Thomas’ progress) from Day One to now. It’s a good moment for us.” Thomas also is aware it will take time – “my hip is better but I have no rhythm. I have no feel for the game right now,” he said – and the expectation is that he will eventually take pressure off star forward LeBron James.
1. The Cavaliers have won their past three home encounters with the Trail Blazers, including the memorable 137-125 victory last season when C Kevin Love scored 34 first-quarter points and finished with 40.
2. Portland swingman Evan Turner scored a season-best 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting against Chicago after averaging only 7.8 points over the previous four games.
3. Cleveland swingman Kyle Korver is nine 3-pointers away from passing Paul Pierce (2,143) for fourth place on the all-time list.