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The Cavaliers may not be favored to win the Eastern Conference this year, but Tristan Thompson doesn’t exactly care about predictions.
If you ask Thompson, the Cavs are the East’s biggest beasts until someone else proves otherwise, the loss of LeBron James be darned.
“We’re still four-time Eastern Conference champions, so until you take us down from that, teams ain’t got much to say,” Thompson told reporters.
“Boston, Philly, they ain’t got much to say. Boston had homecourt Game 7 and lost. Philly, you guys almost got swept (by the Celtics). Toronto — we know that story.”
Thompson speaks the truth. The Cavs have indeed won the previous four East crowns. They beat the Celtics in Game 7 of the conference finals in Boston last season. They swept the Raptors in the second round.
They won the first championship in franchise history in 2016. And they have every key member back from last year’s Finals team … except for, well, James.
Despite that, the Cavs’ confident is high.
“We haven’t lost yet, have we?” coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if the Cavs still rule the East. “We’ll see.”
While Thompson admittedly struggled during the regular season last year, he was a valuable part of things in the playoffs and has been the starting center in all four Finals appearances.
Along with Thompson, the Cavs return All-Star power forward Kevin Love and veteran guards J.R. Smith and George Hill, as well the likes of Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Korver and Jordan Clarkson. They also have a cast of intriguing newcomers, beginning with Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton.
But what makes Thompson thinks the current group can experience some serious success?
“Right there,” Thompson said, pointing to the banners in the Cavaliers’ practice facility. “One, two, three four.”