Beal: Raptors are best team in the East

Bradley Beal of the Wizards says the Toronto Raptors are the best team in the Eastern Conference.

While the Boston Celtics have sat atop the Eastern Conference standings pretty much all season, and while the LeBron James and the Cavaliers are three-time defending champions of the East, another team should don the crown as the best in the East right now.

According to Bradley Beal, anyway.

Beal, the Washington Wizards’ high-scoring All-Star shooting guard, tabbed the Toronto Raptors as the best team in the East, at this point in the season.

“It’s a great team, probably the best in the East right now, playing-wise,” Beal told NBC Sports Washington. “They have so many threats on their team that you can’t take anybody for granted. We know Kyle (Lowry) and (DeMar) DeRozan are the key focus, and we got to try to keep them contained, put some pressure on them, get the ball out of their hands as much as possible for us to be able to make plays.”

Beal made those comments before he and the Wizards — playing their second consecutive game without All-Star guard John Wall, who is sidelined to have knee surgery — hosted the Raptors on Wednesday night.

Beal scored 27 points and added six rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block in leading the Wizards to a 122-119 triumph over the Raptors.

In regards to Beal’s assessment of the Eastern Conference, Boston still leads the way at 37-15, while Toronto is now two games back at 34-16.

Cleveland (30-20) trails Boston by six games, while Miami and Washington are both 7.5 games back of the Celtics, standing 29-22.