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Isaiah Thomas comes to Cleveland to begin rehab this week


Nobody knows when Isaiah Thomas will take the court for the Cavaliers. Including Thomas. Will it be early in the season? Closer to Thanksgiving? Christmas? All the way to the All-Star break?

The answer to that question will start to come this week, when Thomas heads to Cleveland to start rehab with the team’s medical staff, reports Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Cavs don’t have a timetable of return for Thomas, the 5-9, two-time All-Star who was the biggest name player Cleveland received in exchange for Kyrie Irving. Multiple sources told the team “is not going to rush it” with Thomas, but is optimistic he’ll return to the court in the 2017-18 season and play at his usually high level…

The Cavs want to see how Thomas responds after a week, and then through the month of September leading into training camp before they determine a timetable. Thomas elected not to have surgery and told ESPN this week surgery was not the best course of action. All indications point to Thomas missing at least a portion of the season.

On one hand, Thomas missing part of the season is not that bad for Cleveland — they are not focused on the regular season anyway. Their season starts mid-April and runs through June. Thomas can miss time and the Cavaliers will still make the postseason and so long as he and they are healthy the Cavaliers are the team to beat in the East.

The downside is while he is out a lot more falls on LeBron James and Kevin Love to win games, wearing them down a little. Plus, it’s easier to build chemistry on the court through training camp than on the fly during the season. It’s not good for the Cavaliers that he will miss time, but it’s also not the death of their desire to get back to the Finals, either.

What matters most is that when Thomas returns, he is the Thomas of last season, the All-NBA level talent. That’s the guy the Cavaliers need, and that’s why they will not rush the process. However long it is.


Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs


One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.

Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.

In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.

Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.


PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.