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Paul Pierce says Duke could beat the Cleveland Cavaliers

CLEVELAND — How much has changed in five months for the Cleveland Cavaliers?

In June, they were facing the Golden State Warriors in their fourth straight NBA Finals.

In November, an NBA analyst was speculating whether or not they could beat college basketball’s fourth-ranked team.

Paul Pierce may have been making the comment in jest, but the NBA star-turned-ESPN analyst’s assessment on Wednesday night spoke volumes to just how bad the first month of the Cavs’ season has been. Following a 95-86 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, Cleveland fell to a league-worst 1-10 on the season, picking up its 10th defeat the same night Pierce made his bold proclamation.

“Y’all see that Duke game last night?” Pierce asked rhetorically a day after the No. 4 Blue Devils beat second-ranked Kentucky 118-84 in their season opener. “They could beat Cleveland — you heard it here first.”

While it didn’t appear the 10-time All-Star was being completely serious, don’t expect the link between the Cavs and Duke to be broken any time soon. Not only has Cleveland already asserted itself as one of the — if not the — worst teams in the league, but with three of the nation’s top-five recruits on the Blue Devils’ roster, there stands reason to believe the Cavs’ next star player could currently be playing in Durham.

Whether or not a college team consisting of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish could beat the Cavs now is probably a conversation not worth having.

But until Cleveland’s basketball team gets back to its winning ways, don’t expect the shade to dissipate anytime soon.

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