With LeBron taking his talents to the Western Conference, many are wondering who will come out on top in the East. While I think that it’s anyone’s game at this point, I’m not convinced that it’s a slam dunk for the Cleveland Cavaliers. No pun intended. That said, Tristan Thompson seems to think otherwise. In fact, on Thursday, Thompson indicated that the Cavs are still champions until sometime takes it from them. What does he mean exactly? Cleveland didn’t win the title last year. Sure, they’ve won championships, but does that make them current champions? Thompson states:
“We’re still four-time Eastern Conference champions, so until you take us down from that, teams ain’t got much to say. Boston, Philly, they ain’t got much to say. Boston had homecourt Game 7 and lost. Philly, you guys almost got swept. Toronto — we already know that story. Until someone takes us down there’s not much they can really say.”
I mean, I get his point that none of this has actually happened, so maybe people can’t say anything. But those are the teams that are all projected to do well this season. And I should add that Cleveland isn’t on that list.
Yes, the Cavaliers swept Toronto when LeBron played for them, but he’s gone. Regardless of what happened a few years ago, it’s naive for anyone to think that it can be repeated this year. Sure, the Cavaliers could beat any one of those teams in the finals or the semi-finals, but we can’t hang our hats onto that. Which makes it so odd that Thompson is running his mouth this way. In fact, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook set the Cavs’ over/under win total at 30.5. The over/under win totals for Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia at the sportsbook are all above 50 games.
Expectations are particularly high in Boston due to the addition of a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Hayward missed much of last season after fracturing his ankle in the opening minutes of Boston’s first regular-season game. Irving missed a significant portion of the regular season and the entire playoffs due to a knee ailment that required surgery. Both are healthy heading into the season.
Is this just an attempt to stay relevant? There’s no doubt that Thompson has been in the news lately due to his personal situation with girlfriend/baby mama, Khloe Kardashian. And while I’m not saying that she is the cause for this, maybe he feels that he’s not getting enough attention now that we aren’t talking about his relationship anymore? Or maybe he truly believes that Cleveland has a shot at a championship.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it would be great for Cleveland to do well without LeBron. But I’m not convinced that it will actually happen. I definitely think that they will make it into the playoffs, but where they will be seeded and who they play against is definitely up in the air. Toronto looks good, Boston looks good, and so does Philadelphia. But there are other teams in the East that could come through with some big wins this season as well.