Public faith in the Cleveland Cavaliers as an NBA championship contender sailed directly out the window the moment that LeBron James announced his intentions to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in July — but don’t bring that noise to Cavs big man Tristan Thompson.
Thompson, who played an important role in the Cavs’ four straight NBA Finals appearances, including their 2016 title, says that you can’t count Cleveland out until the team gets eliminated. In the process, he called out three of the Eastern Conference’s top teams — the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors — for the way they lost last postseason.
“We’re still four-time Eastern Conference champions, so until you take us down from that, teams ain’t got much to say,” Thompson said. “Boston, Philly, they ain’t got much to say. Boston had home court in Game 7 and lost. Philly, you guys almost got swept. Toronto — we already know that story. So, until someone takes us down, there’s not much they can really say.”
This is absolute peak “everyone’s undefeated” preseason talk from Thompson. Anyone who follows basketball knows that the Cavs might have a tough time even making the playoffs, let alone competing for another championship — Bovada currently lists them at +45000 to win the NBA title, tied with the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic and just behind the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns.
But Thompson is technically correct, so he used this short window before the season starts to puff out his chest and talk some trash to his East foes. One such foe, Celtics forward Marcus Morris, was quick to respond to Thompson’s rant, predicting that the Cavs’ season will end much earlier than they’re used to.
We’d say this intensifies the Cavs-Celtics rivalry, but Boston essentially won that the second LeBron decided to walk. The Cavs may be better than people are giving them credit for — if Kevin Love can return to his Timberwolves form and rookie Collin Sexton is as advertised, they could be competitive. But when it comes to battling the Celtics, Sixers and Raptors for the East crown, it’s pretty much going to take a miracle.