The Cleveland Cavaliers (24-12) host the Portland Trailblazers (19-17). I’m in it for Isaiah Thomas (CLE), the former Boston Celtic, making his Cleveland debut, having recovered from a hip injury. I had to start another DirectTV trial to see this game on NBATV, the one channel I don’t have access to. There is talk about a minutes restriction, though I have a feeling Isaiah is going to want to play his usual amount of 30 plus. Can Isaiah fill the void of Kyrie Irving (BOS)? It almost seems as though there is no void, looking at their all-star roster. Will Tyronn Lue (CLE) use Isaiah in a similar manner to Brad Stevens (BOS), utilizing his wide range of skills? Is he going to be the closer that he once was (see: Mr. Fourth Quarter)? Last year Isaiah was recorded as the best fourth quarter scorer in the entire NBA. He will, however, have to take the passengers seat as a Cavalier, knowing that he won't be the primary focus on the team, though tonight he is the main attraction. I think he has accepted this role and is determined to support his new team, closer to a chance at a ring. Damian Lillard (POR) will also return this evening after a hamstring injury, missing the past 5 games.
Al-Farouq Aminu (POR) scores the first points. Kevin Love (CLE) stands out right away, spinning and sacrificing his body. Offensively, both teams are strong to begin. LeBron James’s (CLE) fadeaways are straight up angelic. Isaiah comes in the game to a standing ovation and quickly misses his first 3 point attempt. You can see that he is trying out his three point range, which is not as good as you might expect it to be. I like to see Evan Turner’s (CLE) evolution since being a bench player on the Boston Celtics, to guarding LeBron, the best player in the world. Isaiah needs to get into the flow of the game, but on the positive side, he’s looking agile and excited. He nails a two point jumper, after a couple failed threes. That's the Isaiah I remember! He’s on a roll!
Isaiah puts his body on the line for the and 1! My baby’s back! The first quarter ends, tied 28-28.
Lue starts the second off with a new Cavaliers line up including Dwyane Wade (CLE), Jeff Green (CLE), and Tristan Thompson (CLE). Side note, Thompson’s girlfriend, Khloe Kardashian announces she is 6 months pregnant earlier in the day.
Their roster is so deep allowing LeBron to get more rest. The commentators also mention Derrick Rose (CLE) and Iman Shumpert (CLE) out with injuries. Not contemporary hot shots, though they’ve had their moments. Seeing Isaiah nail a three makes me so emotional, bringing me back to last season, my eyes water. The Blazers are shooting so well tonight with 4 of the starters in double digits. LeBron is visibly upset, as the Cavs trail by 10 points. He charges hard at Jusuf Nurkic (POR) on his way to the basket. Nurkic ends up writhing in pain on the ground from the collision. After review, it is actually Jae Crowder (CLE) who hits Nurkic in the face mid fall. I think back to Gordon Hayward’s (BOS) injury that took place when LeBron and Crowder were in close proximity - I can imagine seeing this duo together is like seeing death flash before your eyes. LeBron and Nurkic exchange words as Portland gets the ball. The Cavs manage to close the gap, down by only 3 at halftime. Portland 56-53. Isaiah plays 12 minutes.
The Blazers came to play. Lillard has been getting hotter and hotter.
I learn a new rule – if you get fouled while shooting the ball and the ball in goes in over the backboard, the bucket does not count. This happens to Crowder. Isaiah comes back into the game to loud cheers though he immediately fouls Lillard for 3 free throws. The Cavs come back and finish the quarter up 91-87.
So many shooters on the floor for Cleveland! They look like they’re having a good time playing as a team, smiling and joking with each other. Wade is feeling confident tonight showing that he still has some power plays at the age of 35. At 19 minutes, Isaiah comes out of the game – closing with 16 points. What a performance! I’m watching Nurkic’s black eye develop throughout the game after the earlier contact with Crowder. The Cavs increase the point differential. Terry Stotts (POR), the coach of the Blazers, is seen crouching on the floor out of frustration and exhaustion, playing back to back games, after their win in Chicago last night. Wade goes down hard on a foul off contact by his friend LeBron. I see LeBron hug him and if my eyes didn’t lie, give him a little kiss on the cheek. We’re good! The Cavs pull ahead, and just under 5 minutes, they send in their bench players. The Blazers will fight to the end, but the Cavs are victorious 127-110.