After another humiliating defeat, Isaiah Thomas couldn’t help but look in the rearview mirror.
The Cleveland Cavaliers allowed an eye-popping 148 points Saturday in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, bringing their record to 3-4 in games when Thomas plays since the veteran guard returned from a hip injury Jan. 2.
Thomas called the defeat “embarrassing” after the game, but it wasn’t that comment that raised eyebrows. When asked to compare the Cavs to his former club, the Boston Celtics, he admitted the C’s “were just a better defensive team” last season.
“We played a lot harder (in Boston last season),” Thomas told reporters, via ESPN.com, “and we have the guys to do that on this team. We’ve just got to do it and really lock in on that end.
” … I think on that end we do not trust each other, and that has to change.”
Thomas isn’t wrong, of course: The 2016-17 Celtics had the NBA’s 12th-best defensive rating and allowed 105.4 points per game, while the 2017-18 Cavs currently own the league’s second-worst defensive rating and are surrendering 109.5 points per game.
Still, it’s not a great sign when your marquee offseason acquisition is lamenting how his former team — and your chief rival in the Eastern Conference, no less — plays harder than you. Adding insult to injury for Thomas, Boston has improved defensively since replacing the 5-foot-9 point guard with Kyrie Irving, entering Sunday with the league’s best defensive rating at 99.5.
Perhaps sensing his comments could rub some people the wrong way, Thomas took to Twitter later that night to clarify a few things.
LeBron James’ Cleveland teams haven’t been shy about publicly airing their grievances and using those call-outs as motivation to improve. In that regard, it appears Thomas is fitting right in.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images