Isaiah Thomas has only played eight games since returning from his hip injury, and he’s yet to play a back-to-back. There’s no point in rushing him back now, as he’ll have more value to the Cavs in the playoffs.
But there’s also no value to starting him. The Cavaliers need to move Thomas to the bench.
His stats – 15.9 ppg, 3.4 apg – aren’t anywhere near where they were last year. They’ll improve for sure – it’s not like they can get worse – but will his shooting? He’s shooting just 39 percent from the field and a woeful 28 percent on 3-pointers. Last year, for the season, he shot 46 percent from the field and 37 percent on 3-pointers.
He’s lacking confidence. And we know he doesn’t play defense.
Ty Lue says changes are coming, and here’s my advice heading into Friday’s game against the Pacers (who have beaten the Cavaliers three times this season):
It’ll be short on scoring, but they’ll be much better defensively with Thompson in the middle. (Assuming the Cavs get pre-Kardashian Thompson.) Your second unit then pairs the two Celtics (Thomas and Jae Crowder) who thrived in the Brad Stevens system, but are struggling in the LeBron system. Let them go against reserves to boost their confidence heading into the All-Star break.
Yes, that is two 36-year olds in the backcourt, but it’s not like Thomas and JR Smith were more effective defending. At least Thompson allows a final line of defense that is more formidable than Love.