NBA

J.R. Smith.

Watch: J.R. Smith rolls back the years and posterises Aron Baynes with monster dunk

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The Cleveland Cavaliers' new era got off to a great start as they crushed the Boston Celtics on the road and got their season back on track.

With newcomers George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. in the lineup for the first time, the Cavs looked rejuvenated and played with a real energy and purpose.

The foursome all played their part in the 121-99 domination in Boston, with Clarkson impressing the most as he posted 17 points off the bench on 7-of-11 shooting.

They looked engaged defensively and were a force on the offensive end which the Celtics couldn't handle.

In total, seven players finished in double figures on the night as the Cavaliers sent out a strong statement in the Eastern Conference.

The early evidence would suggest that the decision to trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert was the correct one.

One player who was fortunate enough to escape the chop, however, was veteran J.R. Smith who has had a poor season.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

But with fellow shooting guards Clarkson and Hood now on the books, Smith knows he has to step his game up if he's to stay in the starting lineup.

He reacted to those arrivals the way the team would've wanted him to as he produced one of his best performances of the year on both ends of the floor against the Celtics.

The 32-year-old looked like a different player and this was especially evident when he made one of the highlight plays of the night.

Almost midway through the first quarter, Smith blew by former teammate Kyrie Irving and exploded to the rim for a thunderous dunk over Aron Baynes and promptly stared him down.

'Swish' rolled back the years on this throw down as he showed that he's still got some hops in him.

He had a solid night overall as he finished with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, along with six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks.

The Cavs will certainly hope that he plays at this level on a consistent basis as it'll give them another dimension both offensively and defensively.

Smith is usually the x-factor for the Wine and Gold and they seem to be a much harder team to beat when he's playing well.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks

After exacting revenge on Boston following a huge loss in January, Cleveland will now turn their attention to avenging another heavy defeat last month as they travel to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Russell Westbrook and co. torched the Ohio-based franchise for a whopping 148 points at Quicken Loans Arena and the Cavaliers will certainly want payback, even if they have an overhauled roster.

It may be just one game but the Cavs already look like they could claw their way back into contention in the east.

Topics:
NBA
Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
LeBron James
JR Smith

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