Cleveland Cavaliers: The I.T. Effect

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 2: Isaiah Thomas
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 2: Isaiah Thomas /

Cleveland Cavaliers: The I.T. Effect

The Cleveland Cavaliers were in a bit of a slump throughout their West Coast road trip. They had lost 3 of their last 4 games and were lacking a bit of confidence. It seemed as if they had nothing to play for, as if they didn’t care. However, that changed relatively quickly due to the return of 5’9″ All-Star, Isaiah Thomas.

When news broke that Thomas would finally make his long-awaited debut for the Cavaliers when the team faced the Portland Trail Blazers, excitement flooded across Ohio.

This whole season nobody knew what to expect from Thomas when he would come back. Would he be the same player he was in Boston? Will his hip limit him from who he once was?

Those questions were answered Tuesday night.

With 4:33 remaining in the first quarter, Thomas checked in as a Cavalier for the first time to a standing ovation from the crowd. It only took Thomas 28 seconds to get his first assist. To none other than his Boston teammate, Jae Crowder.

With 1:11 left in the first quarter, Thomas scored his first basket for the Cavs, an easy mid-range pull up jumper. His next bucket was a sight everyone was waiting to see. Thomas drove past Shabazz Napier, fell to the ground while being fouled and making the basket. Cleveland fans everywhere held their breath, and let out a sigh of relief as Thomas picked himself off the ground and knocked down the free throw.

I.T. finished the game with a remarkable 17 points and 3 assists in just 19 minutes. In his restricted time on the court, Thomas was also very efficient. Thomas shot 6-12 from the field and 3-8 from three-point range. To top it all off, Thomas ended the contest with a +17 +/- rating for the Cavs.

Not only did Isaiah seem comfortable with his new team but the Cavs as a whole seemed comfortable. In addition, Jae Crowder had one of his best games as a Cav scoring 17 points, shooting 6-12 from the field.

Furthermore, even the bench was revitalized after going through a bit of a slump themselves. Tristan Thompson scored 6 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Jeff Green added 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Dwyane Wade contributed 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Kyle Korver piled on 9 points and 2 boards.

With I.T. playing with the second unit most of the game, it was apparent just how important he really is. All of the bench players had a combined +89 +/- rating compared to a -4 rating from the starting unit.

Thomas expressed his emotions following his debut on twitter:

Like Thomas said, this is only the beginning. I.T.’s effect on this team is monumental, and that was clear against Portland. It will only become more visible as the season moves along.

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