Cleveland Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas impressed in his season debut Tuesday with 17 points in a 127-110 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, but he suggested his game is still coming along after the win.
"I mean, my hip is better but I have no rhythm," Thomas said, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. "I have no feel for the game right now. I've been out for so long it feels like I lost my powers. So even when we're out there scrimmaging, I can move around and do what I want but I just don't have my powers yet."
The rest of the Eastern Conference will be in serious trouble when he does get his "powers" back if Tuesday was any indication. The 17 points came in just 19 minutes, and he hit six of his 12 field-goal attempts, as well as three shots from distance, while turning it over just twice.
He also demonstrated some of the explosiveness that allowed him to score a career-high 28.9 points per game last season while still on the Boston Celtics:
It will take some time for Thomas to return to the complete form he consistently showed last year, considering Tuesday was his first game action since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported there will be an initial minutes restriction, but he appreciated the moment following the victory.
"It was a special night for me," Thomas said, per McMenamin. "I haven't played in seven months, so to be able to be out there and compete against another team was special. Obviously to get the win was even bigger but just to be able to compete and be out there in a game setting, it was a great feeling for myself."
The crowd let its appreciation be known as well when he checked into the contest:
While Thomas is still working his way back from a hip injury, this season is championship or bust for Cleveland following an NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors. It will likely need Thomas to be at his best come May and June, which will in turn take some of the offensive pressure off LeBron James' shoulders in the 15th year of his career.
Tuesday was the first step in what the Cavaliers are hoping is a journey to Thomas' first career championship.