Tristan Thompson: Cavaliers still the team to beat in East without LeBron James

They might have lost the best player of his generation, but Tristan Thompson still has high hopes for the Cavaliers. And he says the Eastern Conference still runs through Cleveland.

Thompson reminded reporters at practice Thursday that the Cavaliers are four-time defending conference champs, and they remain the team to beat in the East despite LeBron James leaving in free agency.

“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 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.”

With James leading the way last season, the Cavaliers swept the Raptors in the second round and beat the Celtics in the East finals in seven games, including the decisive win in Boston. Cleveland was swept in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors, and James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.

The 76ers lost to the Celtics in five games in the second round.

It didn’t take long for Thompson’s comments to make their way to Cleveland’s conference foes. They predictably do not share Thompson’s enthusiasm for the Cavaliers.

Celtics forward Marcus Morris tweeted: “@RealTristan13 Cut it out. Get that vacation ready early this year fam! Ain’t s— going through the Cavs this year! #facts”

In a Instagram comment, Simmons sarcastically replied: “@realtristan13 hah yeh ok buddy see you soon”