Isaiah Thomas Explains Why He Didn’t Want Cavs Debut To Be Vs. Celtics

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BOSTON — Don’t get Isaiah Thomas wrong. He would have loved the opportunity to square up against his former team Wednesday night at TD Garden. The former Celtic is all about revenge games.

So, why did Thomas make his Cleveland Cavaliers debut Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, ensuring he wouldn’t play Wednesday in Boston on the second night of a back-to-back as he eases back from a hip injury?

It turns out the decision to sit out against the Celtics not only is best for his long-term health, but also what he preferred, anyway.

“Like, I was out for seven months,” Thomas told a throng of reporters before Wednesday’s Celtics-Cavs matchup, when asked if he would have rather made his season debut in Boston instead of against Portland. “There?s no way I was going to come back against Boston and play 17 minutes.

“It’s too big of an opportunity to just play against my former teammates, my former coaches, the city that gave me my biggest opportunity. Like, I always wanted to play in this game, but I thought I would be back a little sooner to be able to play. But once we figured out a date that I was going to play, I knew there was a big chance of me not playing.”

In essence, Thomas’ first game in Boston means a lot to the All-Star point guard, and he doesn’t want to waste the moment playing at less than 100 percent. That also explains why Thomas asked the Celtics to hold off on playing a tribute video for him.

“I just wanted my family to be here to see it,” Thomas said. “That’s what it came down to. I wanted to be able to play, and I wanted my family to be able to experience the love and appreciation this city and this organization was going to give me on that night.”

Boston instead is expected to run Thomas’ tribute when the Cavs return to town Feb. 11 — the same day the team is holding a jersey retirement ceremony for Celtics legend Paul Pierce. Thomas is convinced both events can co-exist, though.

“That’s Pierce’s night, but the video tribute ain’t the whole night,” Thomas added. ” … I don’t know why people are so mad about it. I’m not taking nothing away from Paul Pierce. He did 15 years here, so there’s nothing I can take from him. But if they choose to do it that night, that’d be great, and I’d be honored and my family and friends can see how much they appreciated me here.”

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