Isaiah Thomas proved to be everything the Cavaliers hoped for tonight in the fourth quarter against the Trail Blazers. They lost their finisher in Kyrie Irving, but may have gained someone just as good — if not better — in Thomas.
He’s already caught his stride with the Cavs. He played on a minutes restriction tonight and only started the quarter, but when he was out there he was electric.
Thomas checked out with eight minutes left to play and LeBron James took over from there. Thomas finished the game as a +16 in 19 minutes.
He was the spark that pulled the Cavs away in the fourth quarter
This game would’ve been a lot closer without Thomas.
He only played about four minutes in the quarter, but his impact was clear. When the quarter started, the score was 91-87. Thomas sparked a 7-0 run with his playmaking to push the lead up to 100-91.
He made plays off the dribble.
He shared the ball and showed instant chemistry with his teammates and Dwyane Wade in particular.
He found Wade on cuts like this twice in his limited minutes. And then, on the next play down, he got himself a pull-up three.
In just under a minute of play, Thomas made all three of those plays putting the game away. Obviously, it’s a small sample but it’s exactly what James and the Cavaliers wanted to see out of their All-Star point guard.
This gives the Cavaliers something they’ve never had with Irving
Thomas showed he could make plays with or without James and Kevin Love on the court. That’s something the Cavaliers couldn’t really afford to do last season with Irving, as great as he was for them.
He was still a -120 in minutes played with James off the court. He wasn’t the best playmaker for the team and the ball was often stuck in his hands with him trying to make a play for better or worse. With Thomas, there’s still movement. It doesn’t stick. He still cuts hard despite playing in an isolation-heavy offense. He still moves the ball in transition to find the best play.
Yes, it’s a small sample. But five points and one assist in four minutes is pretty good. And +16 is awesome. If he keeps this up maybe James will get some much-needed rest with the postseason just over the horizon.