It’s still too early to know who the Wizards will face in the first round or even try to jockey for a specific opponent with how tight the standings are at the moment, but you know the Wizards are thinking about who they’d like to face in the first round.
There are two ways to look at what would be the best opponent in the first round:
- Go after the team you have the best chance of beating
- Go after the team that would be the most impressive to beat
John Wall and Bradley Beal seem like they’d fall in the latter category. Back in November, Wall accused the Cavaliers of trying to duck Washington in last year’s playoffs and Beal said he felt like the Wizards were the best team in the East. Call it bold or call it foolish, they seem to welcome the challenge of taking down on the King.
Tomas Satoransky looks at things a little differently. Ben Standig of The Sports Capitol asked Satoransky about who he’d like to face in the first round on Friday afternoon and he seemed to prefer the other options out there:
Tomas Satoransky is an honest man. On the idea of facing LeBron and the Cavs in round one: "I would probably be pleased with a different matchup for us." He's not wrong. Cavs-Wizards currently the 3-6. https://t.co/g3BvqSB4Mk pic.twitter.com/XdNfz1hg5G— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) March 30, 2018
From a practical perspective, Satoransky is correct. The Wizards have played the Raptors well this season and in years past, the Celtics and 76ers have been ravaged by injuries, and the Pacers are inexperienced. Meanwhile, LeBron has won the Eastern Conference title seven years a row.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with Wall and Beal’s desire to slay the dragon. The Wizards have proven they can step up in the playoffs and take down teams with better records. We’ve seen that movie before.
Beating LeBron? That would be different, and there’s never been a better time to take their shot, considering Cleveland’s struggles this season, particularly on the defensive end. It would be hard for Washington to win that kind of series, but you can understand why they’d want to see how they measure up against a new challenge.
If everything lines up the right way, they may not have to choose between one or the other. They could pull off an upset in the first round against a non-Cleveland team and take their shot later in the bracket. It would be the best of both worlds, or at least more appealing than watching LeBron beat the Wizards in the first round. We’ve seen that movie before too.