The Cavaliers got a glimpse of what to expect from Isaiah Thomas Tuesday as their new point guard made his Cleveland debut in one of the most anticipated nights of the NBA season.
They surely liked what they saw.
Thomas, acquired in a blockbuster offseason trade that saw a disgruntled Kyrie Irving shipped to the rival Boston Celtics, was limited in action off the bench, but showed flashes of the offensive jolt the Cavs hoped for from their dynamic new point guard in a 127-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
He finished with 17 points and 3 assists on 6-of-12 shooting, all in 19 minutes off the bench.
Even more than the stat line, the best news for the Cavs is that Thomas looked fearless and athletic coming off an offseason hip injury. He moved well with the ball, looked to make plays and did not hesitate to shoot.
This crafty look to a cutting Dwyane Wade on the baseline is the kind of point-guard play the Cavs have been missing.
— NBA (@NBA) January 3, 2018
With Derrick Rose injured, the Cavs have leaned heavily on Jose Calderon to handle the ball when LeBron James isn’t running point forward. While Calderon is a steady, veteran presence on the court, he’s not the difference maker on offense that Thomas is.
Thomas didn’t hesitate to look for scoring opportunities of his own, like this 3-pointer from the corner.
Thomas launched eight 3-pointers in his limited time, hitting three.
How Thomas impacts the Cavs in the win/loss column will be an interesting watch. His strength mirrors where Cleveland already excels, on offense, while there is no denying that he is a defensive liability.
And as Yahoos’ Ben Rohrbach pointed out here, the Cavs are already struggling on defense, to the tune of third-worst defensive efficiency in the NBA.
But if the Cavs can put up more nights scoring 127 points, they can overcome a lot of defensive shortcomings.