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‘Cavs still East’s best squad’



LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Cleveland center Tristan Thompson insists the Cavaliers are still the team to beat in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference, despite the departure of superstar LeBron James.

“We’re still four-time Eastern Conference champions,” Thompson told reporters at a Cavs practice on Thursday. “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 home court in Game Seven and lost. Philly, they almost got swept. Toronto, we already know that story. Until someone takes us down, there’s not much they can really say. Not to me.”

“Even though LeBron’s gone, we still have a very talented ballclub. We still see ourselves as a playoff team.”

Thompson, 27, echoed comments from Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue on Media day on Monday.

Asked to tip an Eastern Conference favorite now that James has landed with the Los Angeles Lakers Lue shot back: “We haven’t lost yet, have we?”

Cleveland reached a fourth straight NBA Finals last season by downing the Celtics in game seven of the East finals.

Cleveland had swept the Raptors in the conference semi-finals when Boston beat the 76ers in five games.