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JR Smith denies Bradley Beal’s claim Cavs tanked to duck Wizards in playoffs

JR Smith Cavs Dwyane Wade

Prior to their 130-122 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, Washington Wizards teammates Bradley Beal and John Wall joined Rachel Nichols for an interview on The Jump. Amid their discussion, Beal made the claim that the Cavs wanted no part of the Wizards in last season’s Eastern Conference Playoffs. In fact, Beal believes Cleveland “tanked,” as some say, to avoid a second round meeting with Washington.

Via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“If you look at last year … I think they didn’t want that No. 1 seed for a reason, because we would have played them in the second round,” Wall said during an interview with ESPN’s The Jump.

This isn’t the first time Beal has made such an allegation. After his Wizards were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in last season’s playoffs, Beal claimed that the Cavs intentionally tanked to avoid a matchup with Washington.

“Cleveland didn’t want to see us,” Beal said in May. “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.”

After Cleveland’s win over Washington on Friday night, Cavs sharpshooter J.R. Smith said Beal’s claim is hard to understand.

“I just don’t understand that we tanked (to miss) them, and they went to seven games against a team that was a No. 1 seed and they lost,” Smith told ESPN. “So how did we tank?

“We were playing horrible,” Smith continued. “It wasn’t like we were just out there (trying to lose). Everybody was playing. It’s not like Bron (LeBron James) didn’t play, Ky (Kyrie Irving) didn’t play, Kev (Kevin Love) didn’t play, like we were resting guys. Everybody was playing. We just had a bad rut like we just did (this season).”

Cavs superstar LeBron James, who posted 57 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and two blocks in Friday night’s win, didn’t have much to say about Beal’s claim.

“I don’t have a comment about that,” James said. “I have so much more on my plate right now.”

Maybe Beal’s remarks sparked a fire under the Cavs, who had lost four straight coming into Friday night’s game. Let’s see if they can keep their winning momentum rolling.

Cleveland will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they’ll host the Atlanta Hawks inside Quicken Loans Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. EST with Fox Sports Ohio and Fox Sports Southeast having live broadcast coverage.

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