The physical and verbal series of the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards continues in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Before the series began, point guards John Wall and Dennis Schroder were expected to exchange words throughout the best-of-seven affair. However, a larger beef has emerged between the two squads, with forwards Paul Millsap and Markieff Morris.
After a physical Game 1, Millsap reportedly told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Wizards were “playing MMA” on the court instead of basketball. Morris responded by saying that Game 2 would be “double MMA.” After a somewhat quiet duel between the two in Game 2, Game 3 was a different story.
Morris stared down Millsap and yelled at the Hawks forward down the entire court after Morris hit a three with Millsap guarding him. Morris finished the game with nine points, six rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. Millsap contributed 29 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks and a steal on the night.
“He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby,” Morris said of Millsap after Game 3. “Get all the calls and you a crybaby. That’s how it went tonight.”
A reporter that was in the Wizards locker room went to the podium press conference to ask Millsap if his rivalry with Morris was personal.
“It definitely got personal now, yes,” Millsap said after hearing Morris’ post-Game 3 comments. “I mean, I don’t care. So what? Take his loss and go back to the hotel.”
On the court, it’s apparent the two don’t like each other at all. Millsap’s a bonafide NBA All-Star while Morris’ proven to be a steady starting lineup piece for a playoff team. After Millsap’s MMA comments went public, Morris began trash talking and going at Millsap even more, regardless of what the score was. Morris is attacking Millsap’s mental aspect of his game and it may not be working for him so well. The Hawks forward is still averaging 25 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists a game this postseason. However, just like any other prizefight, Morris could be eventually wearing Millsap down until he throws the metaphorical or literal knockout punch for him and the Wizards to advance to the next round.