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Cleveland (51-27) took the game 114-91 and, with it, a one-game lead over Boston (50-28) for top seed in the East. The lead is, in effect, two games because the Cavs now hold the tiebreaker advantage.
In dismantling the Celts, the Cavaliers — who were playing the second half of a back-to-back — delivered a pretty clear message to their upstart foe and every other team that has designs on keeping the Cavs from making a third straight Finals appearance when the playoffs start next week. They still have James, and he’s still the toughest puzzle in the East to solve.
Booker and the Suns believe the nights like Friday are the foundation for future success. Watson compares where his team is now to where the Thunder were during their early start.
We won 23 games the first year, but we knew we had something with KD and Russ, Watson said. The next year we won 50 and we took off. Why can’t this team do the same?
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It’ll be tough to match the play of those early Thunder teams with Durant, Westbrook and James Harden. Following that 23-win season in 2008-09, the Thunder have won at least 45 games each season, and OKC stands at 42-31 this year even after Durant’s departure. Since the 2010-11 season (after Amar’e Stoudemire was traded to the Knicks), the Suns have only won at least 45 games once (48-34 in 2013-14).
Booker knows it won’t be easy, but don’t try to tell him he can’t do it.
I’m built for this, Booker said. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing. People gonna talk, but I’ll be over here handling business. This is only the beginning for me.