Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap condemned the Washington Wizards‘ physical approach when the two teams met in game one of their first round playoff match-up on Sunday, suggesting that his opponents were ‘playing MMA’, per ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
Hawks’ Paul Millsap on the Wizards: “The difference in the game was we were playing basketball & they were playing MMA.”
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 16, 2017
Following Washington’s 114-107 triumph in game one, Atlanta were left frustrated by the physical brand of basketball the hosts were enforcing. Millsap, in particular, was aggravated, suggesting his side were playing fair and the opposition weren’t.
The Hawks were sent to the free throw line on 39 occasions, making 32 of them (82.1-percent), with their four-time All-Star regularly visiting the charity stripe as he shot 9-of-11 free throws. Washington were far more efficient from the line, shooting 16-of-17 (94.1-percent).
The Wizards committed a combined 25 personal fouls to Atlanta’s 22, and Millsap’s power forward match-up Markieff Morris, who enjoyed a successful night scoring 21 points with seven rebounds and four blocks, committed four fouls.
The following is from ESPN.com:
“They were physical. When the game is like that, we have to match their physicality. But again, we’ve got to go get some moves and bring them back to the court.”
Morris played him hard for the entirety of the game, and tempers flared towards the end of the first half when Millsap committed a shooting foul on the Washington forward, sending him to the line for three. The pair exchanged heated, albeit brief words. Of the coming-together, Millsap branded it as “just two guys playing hard.”
The 32-year-old forward felt the officials were allowing Washington to play hard with little consequences, despite the fifth-seed’s poor free throw shooting.
One moment that certainly must have left Millsap irate was when Wizards center Marcin Gortat threw down a vicious dunk over three surrounding Hawks players. He then proceeded to push Millsap, which the Polish big man received a technical foul for.
Gortat ended Millsap pic.twitter.com/VbiEH704wz
— Jalen (@jalen_j22) April 17, 2017
Despite this, Millsap put in a fairly stable display, notching 19 points on 62.5-percent shooting to go with two rebounds.
It was evident in game two that Millsap had settled and acclimatized to the Wizards’ physical play, with the forward grabbing 27 points and ten rebounds in a 101-109 loss. The Hawks were sent to the line on 38 occasions in game two, while their opponents shot 33 free throws. Washington, once again, led the foul count on the game 29-26.
Washington and Morris will be looking to continue their relentless aggression long into this series, so it may be a matter of Millsap having to weather the storm.