Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson Says Celtics, 76ers Have to ‘Take Us Down’
Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) speaks during an press conference following the basketball team's practice during the NBA Finals, Thursday, June 7, 2018, in Cleveland. The Warriors lead the series 3-0 with Game 4 on Friday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Even with LeBron James no longer on the team, Tristan Thompson believes the Cleveland Cavaliers are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

The center provided his thoughts on the upcoming season Thursday, calling the other top contenders, via Ben Axelrod of WKYC:

Marcus Morris of the Boston Celtics was quick to respond to Thompson’s comments on Twitter (Warning: Comments are NSFW):

Philadelphia 76ers stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid also chimed in, via Drew Corrigan of House of Highlights:

“Ha yeh okay buddy see you soon,” Simmons replied to the post.

“Boy if you don’t,” Embiid added.

The Cavaliers have reached the NBA Finals in each of the last four years, winning one title in 2016.

Thompson referred to the “story” with the Toronto Raptors, a team that has been eliminated by Cleveland in each of the last three playoff years, including losing 10 straight games.

However, James left for the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, taking away a four-time MVP and 14-time All-Star who might be the most impactful player in the entire league.

As a result, expectations for the Cavaliers are dramatically lower in 2018-19, with OddsShark listing the squad as 80-1 to win the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics are considered the favorites after coming within one game of the NBA Finals last year, while the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers are right behind them.

Only three teams in the East—Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic—are considered to have a worst chance of winning the conference than the Cavs.

Still, Thompson has confidence that the remaining players on his team will be enough to remain competitive going into the season.

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