Morning sports update: J.R. Smith said the Celtics don’t ‘pose a big threat’ to Cavs

J.R. Smith during the trophy presentation after the win over the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 25, 2017.
J.R. Smith during the trophy presentation after the win over the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 25, 2017. –Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The NBA season tips off tonight, with the Cavaliers hosting the Celtics. After pulling off a blockbuster trade in the offseason, both teams now get an immediate chance to face each other again following Cleveland’s victory over Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Heres a look at stories revolving around that matchup, as well as other New England sports news:

J.R. Smith doesn’t think the Celtics are a “big threat” to the Cavaliers’ conference superiority: In an interview on Monday, Cleveland guard J.R. Smith dismissed the Celtics as a true rival to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions.

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“I think they’re the same,” Smith said. “I don’t want to say the same team, obviously because they’re different people in different jerseys. But I don’t really (think they) pose as a big threat to us.” (MassLive)

LeBron James believes Kyrie Irving won’t receive as bad a reception as he did in 2010: Newly acquired Celtic Kyrie Irving plays his first game in green against, of all teams, the one that he was just traded from in the offseason. Opening against the Cavs, Irving’s old teammate, LeBron James, says  the 25-year-old guard will be greeted in Cleveland by a better reception than LeBron James got upon his return after signing in Miami in 2010.

“They will be fine,” James said of Irving and his new teammates. “People were throwing batteries at us [in 2010].” (ESPN)

Marcus Smart’s contract situation not resolved before Monday deadline: Despite both sides reportedly trying to work out an extension, Celtics guard Marcus Smart will enter the season without a new deal.

As a result, he will be a restricted free agent next summer, meaning that while other teams can sign him, the Celtics can match the offer to keep him. (Boston Globe)

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Red Sox interview Brad Ausmus to be next manager: Searching to fill the void left by the dismissal of John Farrell, the Red Sox interviewed former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. Red Sox President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has experience with Ausmus, having hired him to manage in Detroit. (Boston Herald)

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland represented in World Cup playoff draw: In the final round of European qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, eight nations were matched up in an unseeded draw.

Each will play two games (home and away), with the winner decided on aggregate. The Republic of Ireland will face Denmark, while Northern Ireland will play Switzerland. Here’s the rest of the draw: