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Tristan Thompson says other teams need to take Eastern Conference from the Cavs

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According to Thompson, it’s still the Cavs’ conference until someone beats them.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Media Day Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

After losing LeBron James, the Cavaliers are not expected to be the class of the Eastern Conference. The Celtics, with Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving healthy, and the Raptors, having traded for Kawhi Leonard, are projected to be at the top with the Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid-led 76ers not far behind. As for the Cavs, making the playoffs might be a challenge.

But don’t tell that to Tristan Thompson, who on Thursday said that the Cavs are still the champs until someone takes them from them.

“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 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.”

Odds are that the Cavs will not be playing into June this year. But Thompson’s comments here are more about the team trying to find its identity post-LeBron. This is a group that seems committed to making the playoffs this year and showing that it can do it without LeBron. Emphasizing the fact that a lot players on this team were around for last year and years prior makes sense.

Even if a lot of the team’s successes was because of LeBron.