Tristan Thompson sees LeBron-less Cavs as still the team to beat in East

The Cleveland Cavaliers may not have LeBron James this season, but Tristan Thompson says they remain the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

"We're still four-time Eastern Conference champions, so until you take us down from that, teams ain't got much to say. Boston, Philly, they ain't got much to say," Thompson told reporters on Thursday. "Boston had homecourt 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, the Cavaliers swept the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the playoffs and beat the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals before being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

James left Cleveland over the summer to sign a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, so many observers expect the Cavaliers to struggle this season. Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook set the Cavs' over/under win total at 30.5. The over/under win totals for Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia at the sportsbook are all above 50 games.

Expectations are particularly high in Boston due to the addition of a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Hayward missed much of last season after fracturing his ankle in the opening minutes of Boston's first regular-season game. Irving missed a significant portion of the regular season and the entire playoffs due to a knee ailment that required surgery. Both are healthy heading into the season.

On Thursday afternoon, Celtics veteran Marcus Morris responded to Thompson's thoughts via Twitter.

"Cut it out. Get that vacation ready early this year fam! Ain't s--t going through the Cavs this year! #facts," Morris wrote on his verified account.

Philadelphia guard and 2018 Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons also commented from his Instagram account.

"@realtristan13 hah yeh ok buddy see you soon," Simmons wrote.

ESPN's Ian Begley contributed to this report