The Cleveland Cavaliers played like a new team in their Sunday beatdown of the Boston Celtics, probably because, after shipping out six players and netting four in return, they actually were a new team.
But even the holdovers looked like new men—LeBron was celebrating Jordan Clarkson pull-up threes like Clarkson was his long-lost 9-year-old son owning an NBA team, and the King even bothered to give a crap on defense during the 121-99 victory.
According to the Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears, the Cavaliers elected to trade away Isaiah Thomas during their deadline-day exodus after it’d become apparent “James and Thomas didn’t see eye to eye on or off the court.”
Days later, the team that’d spent most of the season in a soapy, miserable spiral celebrated their win over an Eastern Conference rival—and perhaps their being rid of locker room cancers—with jubilance.
From Spears’ story:
Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman proudly waited outside the visiting locker room after the final buzzer to give LeBron James and the players on his victorious new-look team an appreciative fist pound on Sunday afternoon. Injured forward Kevin Love yelled out, “There you go! There you go!” Sharpshooter Kyle Korver gave a look of pleasant surprise. Guard J.R. Smith yelled out, “We got an [expletive] squad now.” And before James hit the locker room door, former NBA great Kevin Garnett hugged him and said, “Y’all look so different.”
Without mentioning anyone by name, LeBron’s postgame comments sounded a lot like shots at some former teammates.
“At the end of the day, I like being around guys that want to win and work hard,” LeBron said. “I know I demand a lot of excellence in my teammates. I demand it out of myself too. On the road, we are going to play as well as we can and put ourselves in contention to compete for another championship. And that’s my mindset.”
LeBron’s apparent distaste for Thomas, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, is apparently mutual.
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) February 11, 2018