Back in 2017, LeBron James helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to yet another NBA Finals appearance. However, point guard John Wall believes that if his Washington Wizards had advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, it would have been them in the Finals instead of the Cavs.
Though the Cavs did end up losing to Kevin Durant and the supercharged Golden State Warriors, they did manage to dominate the Eastern Conference just like they had in the previous couple of years.
The Cavs won the Eastern Conference Finals with ease, defeating the Boston Celtics in a five-game series.
Wall believes that the Cavs dodged a bullet by facing the Celtics instead of the Wizards. The Celtics defeated the Wizards in a seven-game series in the previous round.
It’s really easy for Wall to claim that his team would have defeated James and the Cavs all those years ago. However, it’s a much harder thing to prove, as James advanced to the NBA Finals for four straight years with the Cavs during his second tenure with the franchise.
In 2017, the Wizards were a highly talented squad led by Wall and up-and-coming star Bradley Beal. Both players showed up big time in their seven-game series versus the Celtics.
Beal averaged 24.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, while Wall put up 25.1 points, 10.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.
The leading scorer in the series was the star guard on the Boston squad, Isaiah Thomas. He finished the series scoring 27.4 points per game.
So, why does Wall believe his Wizards would’ve defeated James’ Cavs in 2017? It all boils down to matchups.
“Me and Kyrie [Irving], we matching up,” he began. “I’m taking Brad over J.R. [Smith]. You got Bron over Trevor Ariza. I’m taking you know who. Kevin Love and Markieff Morris, I’m taking Kevin Love, but Markieff Morris can shoot threes and post up. I’m taking [Marcin] Gortat over Tristan Thompson, and our bench was deeper than theirs.”
Wall went on to explain that the regular season games in which the Cavs and Wizards faced off during the 2016-17 season were very close affairs.
In the end, it’s hard to really predict who would have won that series. Given what fans know about James’ ability to will his teams to victories in the playoffs, the smart money probably would have been on the Cavs.