Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. walk off the court after the Wizards’ loss to the Celtics in Game 7. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
As Cleveland lost its grip on the top spot in the Eastern Conference during the final week of the NBA’s regular season, TNT’s Charles Barkley theorized that LeBron James and the defending champion Cavaliers might actually prefer the No. 2 seed. Barkley’s reasoning was simple, if surprising: by finishing second, Cleveland would avoid having to play the Wizards in the second round.
“I’m saying this,” Barkley said last month. “The only team in my opinion who can beat — I don’t know if they can beat them — who thinks they have the confidence to beat the Cavaliers is the Wizards. So, if Boston gets number one, [the Celtics] would play the Wizards in the second round.”
Of course, that’s exactly what happened. While the Cavaliers swept their way to the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics and Wizards took seven games to decide which team would have the chance to dethrone the champs. After Boston prevailed last Monday, Wizards guard Bradley Beal suggested that the Cavaliers were relieved by the result.
“Cleveland didn’t want to see us,” Beal told CSN’s Chris Miller last week. “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. 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, because they knew we would give them that competitiveness and that challenge. We were going to bring it every night and go out there and try to win. We weren’t going to be fazed by who was on the floor.”
The Wizards gave the Cavaliers all they could handle during the regular season. Washington lost the season series two games to one, but the win came at Cleveland and one of the losses came in overtime after James banked in a three-pointer at the end of regulation. Still, a couple of Cleveland players took issue with Beal’s comments.
“Bradley’s a great young player, he’s going to have a great career in front of him, but don’t talk about teams that didn’t want to see you when you’re out of the playoffs,” Richard Jefferson told CBS Sports on Friday. “It makes absolutely no sense. A team that has now won 10 in a row in the playoffs, the defending champions, didn’t want to see you, but you didn’t get out of the second round? It makes headlines, but does it make sense? How does it make you come across when people want to talk about basketball IQ? … He wouldn’t say that before the series if he was going against ‘Bron. He can say it now that he’s out of harm’s way.”
On Saturday, Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith replied to a tweet that referenced Beal’s comments.
“Win Game 7 [and] then talk,” Smith tweeted. “Till then sit home an enjoy the show!”
Beal was not lying. Wizards a wayyyy better match up for the Cavs. Still wasn't going win but games would be better for sure
— James White (@Flight8) May 20, 2017
If you don't knock it off! Win game 7 an then talk. Till then sit home an enjoy the show! https://t.co/aZkZ7Lpi4u
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) May 20, 2017
After the Cavaliers routed the Celtics, 130-86, in Game 2 on Friday to take a 2-0 series lead, it was hard to imagine the Wizards — or any team, really — putting up any less of a fight against Cleveland. On Sunday, the Celtics overcame a 21-point, second-half deficit to shock Cleveland in Game 3 on Avery Bradley’s last-second shot. Beal probably would’ve enjoyed that show, if he bothered to watch.
Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/05/22/bradley-beal-says-cavs-didnt-want-to-play-the-wizards-cleveland-says-it-makes-no-sense/