“Cleveland didn’t want to see us. I always said that. I felt like that’s the reason they didn’t play us in the second round. They didn’t want to see us in the second round,” he said. “If they were going to go down, they were going to go down in the conference finals. They didn’t want to go down in the second round.”
Here’s the thing – Beal might be kind of right. Washington finished just 2 games behind the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland may well have considered the Wizards a tougher matchup. Cleveland won the regular season series against Toronto, 3-1 and they only dropped a LeBron-less season finale. The Cavs beat the Wizards 2-1 this season. The Wizards and Boston Celtics split their season series 2-2. Cleveland won their series with Boston 3-1.
The Cavaliers lost their last 4 games of the regular season. On April 5th they beat the Celtics to take a 1-game lead in the Eastern Conference standings. When the Cavs won that game, the Wizards were the 3-seed. The Cavaliers proceeded to drop their next four, but two were overtime losses and LeBron sat out the final two games of the season. Meanwhile, the Wizards went 2-2 and settled into the 4-seed and the Raptors won their final 4 games. It’s possible the Cavaliers were tanking, but there were a lot of moving parts.
I mean, we know definitively that Toronto was not a tough matchup for Cleveland as they swept and won every game by an average of 15 points. A healthy Wizards team could have forced the Cavs into a week of close games. Or maybe the Cavs really did hope the Wizards and Celtics would tire each other out in the second round. All of this makes sense!
Still, who cares? Maybe if Bradley Beal was giving this interview while the Wizards prepared for game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals instead of at home after being knocked out of the playoffs we wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss him. But he isn’t and they were so – ha ha ya burnt! It was you who went down in the second round, Washington Wizards. Now go try to find somebody willing to trade for Ian Mahinmi’s contract so you can sign someone who can actually step on the floor against Cleveland. Assuming you ever get far enough in the playoffs to meet them.