Isaiah Thomas is set to make his long-awaited season debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers this week after more than seven months out with a hip injury.
The point guard was traded to the Cavs in the summer from the Boston Celtics but has had to endure months of rehab to overcome the torn labrum he suffered late last season and patiently wait to feature for his new team.
Kyrie Irving went in the opposite direction in the biggest trade of the offseason and the two teams will come face to face for the second time this year in a blockbuster showdown on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
There's a possibility that Thomas will feature in the contest and square off against his former team in what would be a highly charged and emotional occasion.
The man who replaced him as the Celtics' star point guard is sure that IT will get the reception he deserves after two outstanding years with the franchise and praised him for his performances in the green uniform.
"That guy put on some performances, epic performances," Irving said, per ESPN's Chris Forsberg. "And, for the city of Boston, what he gave on a consistent basis, you were just wondering how that tough-nosed m-----f----- was just getting it done every single night and demanding from his teammates and playing with an edge that really cemented himself as a premier player in this league.
"And you're just nothing short of happy for a guy like that. And whether or not he plays, it's going to be nothing but love for him from Boston."
Speaking recently, IT also expects to get a warm reception on his return to Beantown and is really hoping to take to the court if the Cavaliers clear him to do so.
"It better be good. It will be good," he said. "If I'm able to play, it's going to be a really special game for me. It's gonna be emotional because I gave my heart to that city and they showed genuine love back, and that's how we feel about each other. If I am able to play that game, it'll be a good one."
Irving has already featured against Cleveland - where he spent seven successful years and won a championship - and was more coy about his second encounter against his old team, choosing to focus on the game instead of anything else.
"Just looking forward to the challenge. It's another great test for us," he said when asked about the rematch.
The C's lead the pack in the east with a 30-10 record while the Cavs are on a three-game losing streak and sit in third at 24-12.
In many people's eyes, this is a preview of the conference finals so we can definitely expect a raucous atmosphere with a playoff intensity on the floor.