With 16 straight victories and an NBA-best 16-2 record, the Celtics have become the talk of the NBA.
But has it been enough to earn acknowledge or attention from the rival Cavaliers?
“Nah,” the Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith told Bleacher Report when asked if they’re watching the C’s extra closely given Boston’s current winning streak. “It’s too early. Too early. We don’t start paying attention until after [the] All-Star break when you see teams spacing out [in the standings]. You start getting your best shot after the All-Star break.”
It’s a veteran answer from Smith, whose Cavs have won five games in a row while improving their defensive play (not that that’s saying much, I suppose). It’s also the confidence you’d expect from a Cleveland core that’s won the East three years in a row. It also probably helps that the Cavs are one of two NBA teams to have defeated the Celtics this season, with a 102-99 victory over the Green, who were admittedly shellshocked in that game given the loss of Gordon Hayward, in their first and only head-to-head of the season to date.
At the same time, however, Smith is aware that the Cavaliers, who sit 5.5 games away from the Celtics for the best record in the East, can’t afford to fall too far behind.
“Last year we were coming off winning a championship and we got ahead of ourselves,” Smith admitted. “We should’ve been the No. 1 seed but Boston had a good year.
“We took steps further back when we shouldn’t have.”
Barring a freefall out of contention for the No. 1 seed, Smith and the Cavs will not be forced to pay any extra attention to the Celtics until they meet next, on Jan. 3, 2018 at TD Garden.
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Source: GreenStreet Blog