IT Returns to Boston with Nothing but Love for C’s

BOSTON – When Isaiah Thomas strolled into TD Garden Wednesday night, he almost took a wrong turn – straight into the Boston Celtics locker room. He’s a Cleveland Cavalier now, but part of him is still going through the motions of being a Celtic.

“It’s weird, man,” an inactive Thomas told a large flock of media members before his current team tipped off against his former team. “I haven’t been back since I had a dentist appointment here in August. But I’m happy to be back. It just feels good to be here.”

Despite being present in the arena Wednesday night, Thomas was unable to suit up against the C’s. The point guard, who made his season debut Tuesday night against Portland, has not been cleared to play in back-to-backs because he is still working his way back into playing shape after sitting out for the last seven months with a hip injury.

But that didn’t stop Thomas from making his first trip back to Boston since the offseason trade that sent him, along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two future draft picks to Cleveland in exchange for Kyrie Irving. There was no way he could miss this game, whether he would be playing on court or watching from the sideline.

“There’s been a lot of great moments in Boston,” said Thomas. “My career skyrocketed here, and they gave me the biggest opportunity I’ve ever gotten, and I can’t thank them enough.”

That's why he couldn't miss Wednesday night's game - regardless of whether or not he was able to play against the green and white.

As much as he would’ve loved to have participated, he knew the timing just wasn’t right. Thomas wants to be at 100 percent when he takes on the Celtics, and he’s not quite there yet.

“There was no way I was going to come back against Boston and play 17 minutes,” he said with a smile. “It’s too big of an opportunity to play against my former teammates, my former coaches, the city that gave me my biggest opportunity. I always wanted to play in this game, but I thought I’d be back a little sooner to be able to play. But once we figured out a date I was going to play, I knew there was a big chance of me not playing (in Boston).”

Thomas knows there will be more opportunities to suit up against the Celtics. The next one will take place Feb. 11 when the C’s and Cavs match up for the third and final time of the regular season.

He cannot wait for that day, not because he wants revenge against the team that traded him, but because he loves playing at TD Garden in front of his beloved Celtics Nation.

“I love this city,” said Thomas. “I love this organization. They’ve given me the opportunity to be who I always wanted to be, and I can’t thank them enough. There’s no hard feelings to anybody in this city or anybody in this organization. This is genuine love and that’s for the rest of my life.”