The 5'9" MVP candidate was ecstatic after playing for the first time since being traded by the Boston Celtics for Kyrie Irving during the offseason. He was sidelined for more than seven months while recovering from a hip injury.
More than his 17 points, three three-pointers and the same number of assists, we decipher IT's impact beyond the numbers. The factors below will be crucial for the ring-chasing squad moving forward.
Apparently, sharing the court with his Boston teammate does wonders for Jae Crowder, who had his best game as a Cavalier (17 pts 4-8 3pt 2 stl 1 blk). It would be better though if he returns to form as the elite 3-and-D player that was packaged with Thomas over the summer.
Inserting a spitfire guard into a rotation of an aging Dwyane Wade, a fragile Derrick Rose, and JR Smith gone MIA gives them a much-needed spark. Never mind the defensive concerns; "The King in the Fourth" more than makes up for it with his scoring ability (28.9 ppg).
Break for 'Bron
The King logged fewer minutes (34) than his 2017-18 average (37) against Portland. A quick breather might not mean much to most players, but is significant for someone with seven straight seasons worth of Finals wear and tear, more than the GOAT's total career playing time.
We would be exaggerating to say James and Thomas bring to the table the same things. But the latter's constructive effect on his team is undeniable (+17 in 19 mins.). So much so that Cleveland can afford to have an MVP-caliber playmaker and scorer on the floor all game long.