Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, they are nowhere near full strength. That is about to change.
Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson both returned to Cavaliers practice, with game participation seemingly on the horizon. Thomas has yet to play with the Cavs after coming over in the offseason blockbuster trade for Kyrie Irving. The initial projections called for him to return in January or possibly closer to February’s trade deadline. His recovery from a hip injury has gone smoothly, as he’s set to come back much earlier.
Thompson, on the other hand, has played in eight games this season before a calf injury sent him to the sidelines for more than a month. The center has been a regular in the Cavs starting lineup, but this season head coach Tyronn Lue opted to move Thompson to the bench in order to employ a small-ball lineup.
Thompson, however, could return to starting given matchups and the Cav’s rebounding situation. Although Kevin Love has filled in ably at center, Cleveland is usually outmatched on the boards. In its most recent win, the Cavs yielded nine offensive rebounds to the Sacramento Kings, who were playing without centers Willie Cauely-Stein and Skal Labissiere.
"I'm always ready to play–even when I first got hurt, I was always ready to play," Thompson told reporters. "You've got to listen to the medical team, and that's their job, that's what they're here to do.”
Thompson previously played in 447 straight games for Cleveland, a streak that finally came to a close late last season.
In addition, Derrick Rose might be nearing a return. The guard apologized to teammates recently after leaving the team in order to ponder his NBA future. Injuries have taken a toll on the former MVP, but he is back rehabbing an ankle injury. Iman Shumpert remains sidelined for the foreseeable future with a knee injury.
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