Celtics

Cavs: 'Not going to put a timetable' on Thomas' return

Cavs: 'Not going to put a timetable' on Thomas' return

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – While all signs continue to point towards Isaiah Thomas missing some time this season to recover from his hip injury, it appears the Cleveland Cavaliers have all but ruled out surgery as an option.
 
“Our plan is a non-surgical plan,” said Cavs general manager Koby Altman, who said did not want Thursday's introductory press conference to turn into the "Isaiah Thomas hip press conference."

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That's understandable, but as Altman knows all too well, it's totally unavoidable considering how significant Thomas' injury played in negotiations that were prolonged due to the hip. 

When Thomas asked about the latest on his hip and a timeline for his return to action, Altman stepped in to address the question before Thomas could speak.
 
“To be fair to Isaiah,” Altman said, “We’re not going to address any specifics of the hip injury. We’re also not going to put a timetable on his return. We’re not going to rush it, at all.
 
Altman added, “the goal is to bring him back at some point this year and be healthy, and compete and get back to I.T. status. That’s our goal and responsibility to him. We’re not just going to address the specifics of the injury and not going to comment on a timetable.”
 
Thomas, who has been working with Cleveland’s medical team since the trade, said he’s getting treatments every day with the plan to get him back to “100 percent as soon as possible.”
 
On Aug. 22, both sides agreed to a four-player trade that would send Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and an unprotected 2018 Brooklyn first-round pick to Cleveland for Irving pending physicals.
 
That’s where things got messy.
 
Cavs doctors believed Thomas’ injury would keep him out for a longer period of time than they were led to believe in the negotiations with the Celtics, prompting Cleveland officials to ask for additional compensation in the form of another first-round pick.
 
The Celtics didn’t want to put any more compensation into the deal but ultimately reached a compromise by sending Cleveland a 2020 second-round pick from Miami to be added to the deal.
 
Thomas was third in the NBA last season and tops among all Eastern Conference players last season with 28.9 point-per-game average. He was named to his second straight All-Star team and was on the All-NBA second team.
 
While the Cavs did add former league MVP Derrick Rose to the mix as well as Jeff Green, the former Celtic who is a career 13.5 points per game scorer, they will need a dynamic scorer like Thomas if they are to continue their reign atop the Eastern Conference.


 

Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

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Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

After arriving in Boston and spending some time with his new teammates, Kyrie Irving felt good about this group doing big things this season. 

But when asked about the experience thus far being what he thought it would be, Irving responded, “It’s probably exceeded that.”

He’s not alone. 

Few would have envisioned the Celtics (15-2) would have the best record in the NBA at this point, let alone be riding a 15-game winning streak which ranks as the fifth-best winning streak in franchise history. 

Irving and his Celtics teammates will try and keep it going tonight when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.

Irving’s ability to mesh with his teammates and still find success was among the many questions out there when the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the blockbuster trade this offseason. 

Blending in has not been an issue for Irving, bolstered by the reality that his game stands out. 

We saw that in Boston’s 110-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which was a game in which Irving had 30 points on an insanely efficient 10-for-12 shooting night. 

There were many factors that went into Irving’s strong night against the Hawks, but he said it really came down to one thing above all else.

“I just made some damn shots for once,” Irving quipped. “That right there kind of made it seem better than I actually been shooting over the start of the season.  It would also contribute to being able to be in the right spots and guys being selfless in their approach driving to the basket or getting into the paint. It’s tell-tale sign of all of us getting more comfortable.”

Here are five below-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on as the Boston Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks, with Boston gunning for its 16th straight win. 

BROWN’S POSITIVE PLAY

Jaylen Brown has been on a bit of an offensive tear of late, the last being a career-high 27-point performance in Boston’s win over Atlanta. But even more telling is how well things seem to flow with him on the floor. Brown’s plus/minus this season is +146 which is tops among all players in the Eastern Conference. His closest competition in the East? That would teammate Al Horford whose plus/minus this season is +143. In addition, Horford has had a positive plus/minus in every game this season. 

YOGI FERRELL

You can count Yogi Ferrell among the ones that got away from Brad Stevens when he was coaching at Butler. Ferrell, who played at Indiana, was a player on Stevens’ radar when he was coaching at Butler. “I recruited Yogi, unsuccessfully,” Stevens told reporters in Dallas. While Ferrell came on strong as an undrafted free agent with the Mavericks last season, Stevens said there’s nothing about Ferrell’s game now that he didn’t see when he tried to woo him to Butler. “He would have been awfully good at Butler,” Stevens said.

HOMECOMING

While Marcus Smart grew up in Flower Mound, Texas (less than an hour from Dallas), tonight’s game is a homecoming of sorts for another Celtics player – Semi Ojeleye. The 6-foot-7 forward played at SMU which is located in Dallas. A second-round pick by Boston in last June’s NBA draft, Ojeleye has been among the many surprise performers for the Celtics this season. “We knew he could be a versatile defender,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Probably has exceeded our expectations in that regard with his ability to guard one (point guard) through five (center) at certain times. And he’s been pretty consistent shooting the ball. Right now, embracing that kind of 3-and-D role is what he has to do and he’s done it well.”

DEEP DRAFT CLASS

The Boston Celtics struck gold by drafting Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. But as you look at the teams that had lottery picks in last June’s NBA draft, few come away feeling disappointed or discouraged by the player selected. The Dallas Mavericks are among the teams pleased with their first-round pick, Dennis Smith Jr. who was selected with the ninth overall pick. He has emerged as one of the top rookies this year, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. And yes, he was a player that was on the Celtics’ radar leading up to last June’s draft. “We had Dennis in and he was really impressive,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s a guy that’s going to have a great career and he’s got good veteran players around him to help kick it off.”

DIRK NOWITZKI

The numbers aren’t anywhere close to what we’ve seen for the bulk of Dirk Nowitzki’s illustrious career that’s now in Year 20. But there is a demeanor about him that seems to be at peace with where he’s at basketball-wise, even if the wins aren’t nearly as plentiful as he’s accustomed to. “I appreciate his game a ton,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Just watching him talk on the court, cheer on the bench, sit at the scorer’s table with a smile on his face. You can’t play this long and be this good this long if you don’t’ love it. Everybody says they love it, but he’s got a different level of passion. You can feel it, you can see it. You root for guys like him to have success.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's need to play Smart in Dallas

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE