The Cleveland Cavaliers are recovering from a slow start while the Boston Celtics continue to surge, but J.R. Smith isn’t worried yet.
According to Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report, the shooting guard said the Cavs aren’t thinking about the Celtics right now.
“Nah. It’s too early. Too early. We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break when you see teams spacing out (in the standings). You start getting your best shot after the All-Star break.”
Perhaps there are some negative reactions to Smith’s statement, since Boston has rattled off 16 straight victories. It’s impossible to ignore, especially since a former teammate in Kyrie Irving is leading the charge.
However, Cleveland doesn’t need to worry for two simple reasons.
First, the Cavs have their own problems right now. There’s plenty of time remaining this season — and point guard Isaiah Thomas has been sidelined — so Cleveland needs to focus on itself. Improving defensively and getting healthy are keys for the Cavs, and Boston doesn’t affect that.
Second, the standings really shouldn’t matter for Cleveland anyway. As long as the Cavaliers are one of the eight playoff teams from the Eastern Conference and have LeBron James, they’re going to be considered a championship contender.
Home-court advantage is nice, but Cleveland cruised through the conference finals as the No. 2 seed against Boston in five games last season anyway. While the Cavs would prefer to open postseason series at home, it’s not a make-or-break factor.
Besides, the Celtics will lose a few games eventually, and the All-Star break is nearly three months away. The standings can change dramatically in the meantime.