A rather pedestrian 4-vs-5 matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards just got more entertaining after the constant tension and trash talk between forwards Paul Millsap and Markieff Morris.
The two players went at it intensely in Game 1 of the playoffs Sunday, with Morris getting the better end of things with a 21-point, seven-rebound, four-block performance and taking home the win.
Morris had made headlines prior to the game, taking offense at being called a “stretch-four” in comparison to Millsap, but didn’t have a problem with the term being used on his counterpart.
Things got even more heated once both players took the court, hustling and diving for loose balls and even having a few words to say after an apparent free-throw violation by Morris.
Millsap is being careful not to fall of Morris’ game, reflecting on Game 1 after he called out the Wizards for “playing MMA” instead of basketball immediately after their loss.
“They’re going to say some things to try to get under our skin and take us out of our game, but we’re not going to fall for it,” Millsap told Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic after Hawks practice Monday on the Georgetown University campus.
“I’m not going to turn it into a personal battle between me and Morris. That’s what he wants me to do, take all of the focus off the team and put it on him. I’m not going to do that. I’ve been in the league too long. It’s about the team.”
The dynamic forward said he wasn’t concerned with being outscored by Morris, but that the team rather needed to shift their attention to the Wizards’ two main guns.