BOSTON -- Danny Ainge loves Isaiah Thomas. The Boston Celtics' franchise, from ownership on down, feels the same way.
No one knows fully how tough it was for them to part with him for a package centered around Kyrie Irving, who'd made it clear that he wanted out of Cleveland.
For those who question Irving's motives as well as the Celtics' desire to part with a player like Thomas -- who made such a huge impact in so little time -- here's what you need to know.
You do that deal if you're Boston because you feel that, going forward, Irving gives you a better shot at winning a title.
You do that deal because you know that adding Irving to this culture would be a win-win for both the player and the franchise.
You do this deal because you believe Irving can elevate your franchise in a way that makes you, at a minimum, in the conversation to compete and ultimately win a championship.
Thursday's game against Golden State?
That's why you did the deal.
Because for all the second-guessing that went on relative to the blockbuster trade with Cleveland, the end-goal was to be positioned to win games like Thursday night's battle with the defending NBA champion Warriors.
And making the matchup all that more enticing is that the Celtics (13-2) come in with the league's best record -- not Golden State -- and have done it in impressive, emphatic and historic fashion.
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