Isaiah Thomas.

Three positive signs from Isaiah Thomas' encouraging Cavs debut

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After a long and grueling seven months out with a hip injury, Isaiah Thomas finally returned to the court and made his long-awaited debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The point guard started on the bench and checked into the game towards the end of the first quarter to a hero's welcome as the fans inside Quicken Loans Arena rose to their feet to greet him.

The two-time All-Star made an immediate impact as he played an important role in helping the Cavaliers overcome the Portland Trail Blazers with a 127-110 win.

He played just 19 minutes but didn't suffer from any rust as he put up 17 points and three assists in that time.

Here are three positive signs for Cleveland from his first outing:


Despite being out for so long, Thomas had no plans to take things easy and was aggressive in his approach from the outset.

He was not afraid of contact and was constantly looking to drive to the basket and make plays which is something they've been crying out for at his position.

You can see that on the following possession as he went right at Shabazz Napier and got the layup to fall and was rewarded with an and-one opportunity as he hit the deck:

The team may be looking to ease him back in slowly but he's prepared to play at full tilt every time he steps on the floor.

His ability to penetrate off the dribble adds another dimension to the Wine and Gold and makes the game much easier for the likes of LeBron James and creates space for their shooters on the perimeter.

When referring to Isaiah, head coach Tyronn Lue often references how he'll be able to speed the game up for them and how his drives will create multiple scoring opportunities.

It was clear in this short debut that Lue has already drilled this into him and his skills will make the Cavs offense even more of a threat.

Fearless approach

Portland Trail Blazers v Cleveland Cavaliers

He may be one of the shortest players in the league but one of the reasons why IT has become so popular is because of his willingness to go toe to toe with anybody regardless of their size.

Before the game, the 28-year-old did his best to temper expectations as he admitted he had no rhythm and would need time to get back into his groove.

“My hip is better but I have no rhythm ... It feels like I lost my powers ... but once I get out there it’s going to be too hard to hold me back," said Thomas, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

But as soon as he got on the court at the Q, he didn't look like a player who was out of sync at all and wasted no time playing like we know he can.

The All-NBA guard made every minute count as he attempted the second-most shots on the team (12), eight of which came from three-point range.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the week, Thomas explained how his teammates were constantly encouraging him to play his natural game and not worry about deferring to others, which is exactly what he did.

The former Celtics star is at his best when he's in attack mode and after averaging 28.9 points last year, he should be afforded a certain amount of freedom on the offensive end and the Cavaliers should benefit from that.

LeBron's Load

Portland Trail Blazers v Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James is currently logging the third most minutes of any player in the league and the Ohio-based franchise must find a way to ease the load on their superstar.

They must decrease his minutes and preserve him for what they hope will be another long playoff run at the end of the campaign, and that's where the presence of Thomas will make all the difference.

He will be a secondary scorer and can orchestrate an offense when LBJ rests on the bench. The dynamic Washington native didn't need much time in showcasing this against Portland.

Portland Trail Blazers v Cleveland Cavaliers

With King James on the bench in the fourth quarter, IT took the reigns and dropped five points and an assist to lead a 7-0 run that put the game out of the Blazers' reach.

The team's reserve unit of Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green, Kyle Korver and Tristan Thompson is one of the best in the NBA and the addition of Thomas to that quartet made his production rise.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Cavaliers were more effective with Isaiah Thomas on the court and LeBron James off the court than when they were both on the floor together which is the most positive sign for them.

When the duo gets used to playing together, however, it will make them one of the most dangerous pairings in the NBA and will significantly increase their chances of bringing another championship to 'The Land'.

LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference

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