It’s weird to think about now, but the Cavs were actually the #2 seed in the East last season. The Celtics had the conference’s best record, though it eventually did them little good, as Boston lost to Cleveland in four games.
The Wizards were the #4 seed, and they pushed the Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. Now Washington’s leaders, John Wall and Bradley Beal, are doubling down on prior statements implying the Cavs ducked the Wizards last year by intentionally avoiding the #1 seed.
You can see Beal try to suppress a smile as Wall dives into the talking point. I also enjoy former Wizard Paul Pierce’s face, reminiscent of the Grinch, almost, in his mischievous upturned mouth corners.
It’s a fairly absurd notion. The Cavs might indeed think the Wizards are the best competition for them in the East. Probably not, considering they couldn’t beat the Celtics, who the Cavs swept with ease, but hey, sometimes matchups are matchups.
More likely, though, the Cavs just didn’t care about the regular season. That’s happened before with a LeBron James team. In 2013 Indiana came out determined to capture the #1 seed in the East, which they eventually did, despite imploding en route to a six game loss in the conference finals. Then LeBron went back to Cleveland, immediately transforming the Cavs into the conference kings.
And as we’ve seen so far this season, the Cavs once again don’t look like a team that plans on peaking any time before April. (The Pacers just ran them in Cleveland the other night, with the Cavs looking flummoxed by the most basic pick and rolls.)
Wall and Beal, though, don’t lack for confidence, nor should they. And it’s never too early to try to get in LeBron’s head, although as we’ve seen for the last seven years, the Eastern Conference is basically won by LeBron. And if the Wizards end up losing to Cleveland this year, all of these clips are probably coming back to haunt them.