Thomas still unsure if he'll need hip surgery

Thomas missed the remainder of the playoffs after aggravating a right hip injury during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who beat the Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to advance to another NBA Finals to meet the Golden State Warriors.

The two teams split their two regular season meetings in 2016-17, with the Cavaliers narrowly edging the Warriors for a one-point win on Christmas Day, while Golden State responded weeks later on January 16, laying the hammer in a 35-point win.

The Boston Celtics showed this postseason that they have players who could fill in for Isaiah Thomas when the star point guard was injured.

Bill Laimbeer, stalwart of the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" teams that were once the bane of Jordan's Bulls, says that attention to every aspect of the game makes James, for him, the best ever.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said though he's disappointed with how the season ended, he's encouraged that no one in Boston's locker room is satisfied just making it to the conference finals. "Because I think we saw it first hand, especially in these home games".

The Cleveland Cavaliers, however, say they aren't using any snubs to get ready for the NBA Finals. Irving is just 25.

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"I've gotta do what's best for me in the long run, what's best for my body", Thomas said. For the Celtics to realistically challenge the Cavs in the next three years, it's going to take a significant talent increase.

The last pick in the 2011 National Basketball Association draft, Thomas has emerged as an All-Star in Boston. A lot of it likely has to do with the way players get paid in free agency.

Veterans Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, and David West add plenty of experience while combustible Oakland local Matt Barnes, who joined the team late in the season, could be an X-Factor, with his defence and ability to rile up opponents. "We've played that way, and maybe people don't appreciate it because of a blowout or because of a sweep", he said. "We still, obviously, have to keep growing as a group. But I'm proud of our guys". He signed a max deal with the Celtics last summer.

Shockingly the Cavs sported championship shirts that said "earned, not given", as if they didn't win the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery two years in a row and three years out of four. "I wasn't sure when, but I knew that I had to make the conscious choice to really lead our guys, understanding the situation that we were in". "Just to be a part of this is awesome, so really just embracing that".

"I've been very blessed the last few years to be a part of this league and play on the big stage", said Cleveland star LeBron James, who has now reached the Finals for the eighth time - including each of the last seven years. "It means that I've got to go straight to work tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to watching these prospects".

The 5-foot-8 point guard said he wants to play until he's 40, and he'd like to do it in Boston. But if they're going to make the jump from nice little story to true National Basketball Association title contender, there is a lot more work to be done.

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