Cleveland Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas will make his season debut against the Portland Trail Blazers, but sit against the Boston Celtics. 

Isaiah Thomas has missed the first 36 games of the Cleveland Cavaliers season, but his long-awaited debut will take place Tuesday against the Trail Blazers. The following contest is in Boston against the Celtics. He won’t be present for that one.

Thomas came over from Boston over the summer as a part of the Kyrie Irving deal. He’s been dealing with a nagging hip injury for months, and the organization doesn’t want to rush him back onto the court. That game against his former team is the second half of a back-to-back, which isn’t an ideal circumstance for someone who’s coming back from a devasting absence. As expected, head coach Tyronn Lue will have to ease Thomas back into the rotation, but he doesn’t mind it.

“It won’t be that tough ’cause I know where I am right now,” said Thomas to reporters on Monday. “I wouldn’t wanna put myself out there to just try to force it. I can wait until February. I think we play them in February again. I can wait and put on a show then.”

For two-and-a-half years, Thomas was the most beloved Celtic in decades. He gave blood, sweat, tears and tooth to that city, and everyone showed him unconditional love because of it. He also landed on his only two All-Star teams while in Beantown. Thomas’ 2016-17 season was especially memorable.

With a scoring average of 28.9 points, Thomas became the first Celtic since Larry Bird in 1988 to eclipse the 28 points per game mark. He did so with a dazzling display of marksmanship, explosiveness and sheer willpower. By the end of the season, he, Stephen Curry and James Harden were the only guards to put up more than 25 points a night while maintaining a true shooting clip of at least 60 percent.

Feb. 11 marks the third and final meeting between the Cavaliers and the Celtics. If we’re lucky, both teams will meet again sometime in the postseason when Isaiah Thomas would be at full health.

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