Paul Pierce whines about Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas Cavs Warmup

Paul Pierce whines about Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics scraped over the line for the second consecutive game on Sunday, holding off the Brooklyn Nets to win 108-105.

Jusuf Nurkic and C.J. McCollum aided Lillard's efforts with 23 and 19 points respectively, while former Ohio State star Evan Turner scored 15 for the Trail Blazers.

Thomas debuted in a game versus Portland and showed no rust at all as he scored 17 points in a limited 19 minutes and displayed the explosiveness he is known for. Last season, Thomas was one of the league's leading scorers (28.9 points per game) and contributed almost 6 assists and 3 rebounds per game to go with his 38% shooting from deep. They took an 81-68 advantage into the fourth and the Cavs were outscored 21-20 in the final 12 minutes.

How many minutes for Isaiah? .

Despite losing their All-Star, Boston hold a commanding lead at the top of the Eastern Conference at the halfway stage of the season.

Pierce said Thursday that he would prefer the Celtics not run their planned in-game tribute video for Thomas' on-court return February 11, the same night the Celtics will send Pierce's jersey to the rafters following a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It promises to be an electrifying match-up between two of the league's best sides, and here's how you can follow the game live.

Can the Celtics stop LeBron? .

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In a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Finals, Boston extended their 55-47 half-time lead to as many as 20 points in the third quarter.

"I'm always concerned about other teams getting better and better", James said after Wednesday's loss.

Thomas, who asked the Celtics not to play a video tribute, saying he would prefer to be honored when he was actually playing, got a cheer from the crowd when he joined his teammates on the bench late in the first quarter and made a brief appearance on the video board.

Kyrie Irving, who Cleveland traded to Boston, has been the straw that stirs just about everything the Celtics do. With free agency looming for Thomas - a free agency that he's been waiting for to be properly compensated for his jump from solid player to genuine National Basketball Association star - the next few months will be crucial for him to reestablish himself as a player worthy of a massive payday after all of the doubts about the state of his hip over the past few months. At that point, Thomas had made 3-of-6 field goals, 1-of-4 3-pointers and his only free throw with one assist for a plus/minus of plus-7.

Nobody else on the team is averaging more than 14.4 points. Olynyk finished with 13 rebounds and Dragic had 13 assists for the Heat, which is three games over.500 for the first time since April 2016.

Boston have been given slight favoritism in this game by oddsmakers, who have given them a one point handicap. Not going to never give it his all.

This is a mouth-watering matchup, and one which should go right down to the wire. Currently, the Cavs are a lowly 21st in team defense. However, as much as Thomas would like to play against the Celtics, he knows the smarter move is to put his health first. So when Celtics team president Danny Ainge turned around and traded him in a deal that helped Boston land Kyrie Irving, Thomas was understandably upset.

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