Marcin Gortat after suffering ankle tweak in Game 1: ‘I’m not made of sugar… I’m Poland finest’
Following an unfortunate injury to Markieff Morris in the second quarter of Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, center Marcin Gortat was forced to get his hands even dirtier in the low block, banging and bumping against big Al Horford in hopes of maintaining a lead that slowly started to evaporate.
While Gortat put up a valiant 16-point, 13-rebound outing, it was largely overshadowed by Horford’s near-triple-double line of 21 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists that earned the home team a 123-111 win on Sunday afternoon.
The 6-foot-11 bruiser also tweaked his ankle during the game but was able to play through the latter part despite the discomfort.
“Yeah, I twisted my ankle. Listen, I mean, I’m not made of sugar,” Gortat, the son of two-time Olympic Bronze medalist boxer Janusz Gortat, told Ava Wallace of the Washington Post on Monday while cracking a smile. “I’m Poland finest. Hashtag Poland Finest. Poland made.”
“Any other day — but I can’t. I can’t, I can’t break down right now. We can laugh as much as we want, but I can’t break down. I’m the only big man standing right now, not counting Mr. Ochefu, our rookie sitting at the bench. I’m the last big man standing here, I have to play, I have to perform, I have to play the highest level.”
The Polish Hammer, as he’s known league-wide, knows exactly what’s at stake — Jason Smith, while boasting the right size at 7-feet tall, is more of a finesse power forward and not the presence he provides at the low block or the intimidator he is at the rim.
Gortat faces a tough matchup against a stretch-five on Horford, who can punish a team with his range as much as he can with his offensive rebounding prowess.
With Morris’ impending return not exactly a reliable option for the Washington Wizards, the Polish stud is taking the challenge of defending Horford straight on, learning every possible lesson after getting caught off guard in Game 1.
“He does everything,” Gortat said. “He does everything. It’s not like he’s master of everything, he just does everything very well. Like I said, for the first two and a half, maybe three quarters, the guy was invisible. I mean, I felt like everything was under control and then all of sudden, he’s picking up one loose ball, he has one tipped dunk, he has one post move, then he had one three, one little jumper from outside, then you’re coming back to the bench sitting at the timeout and the guy has almost triple-double. I’m like, where’s this coming from?
“That was definitely a huge surprise to me. I’ll definitely have to put more pressure on Al, I can’t have him throw all these assists to his teammates. I have to attack him more and try to create more fouls. Al’s a very good player. I’ll never say Al is terrible, he’s bad. He’s a very good player. It’s gonna be a long series, and I love that challenge.”