For some players, the first NBA playoff game they participate in is the first they have ever attended. Many players did not grow up around cities with NBA teams and others never made it to one for various reasons.
Not Markieff Morris of the Wizards, who last year sat courtside for the Detroit Pistons' first round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was there to support his twin brother, Marcus, and even donned a No. 13 Pistons jersey in the crowd. To accessorize, he wore a hat with the initials F.O.E., or 'Family Over Everything.'
This year it will be Markieff's turn to go to the playoffs and participate for the first time in his six-year NBA career. He's thrilled about the opportunity for himself, but also his family.
"I'm excited for my family," he said. "It would mean a lot. I got a chance to watch my brother play in the playoffs last year for the first time. It was an unbelievable atmosphere and I was so happy for him. I just want to get out there and experience it with my family."
Morris, 27, remembers the atmosphere at The Palace of Auburn Hills last spring and is looking forward to a similar environment at the Verizon Center in just a few weeks.
"It was crazy, man. It was like being back at Kansas. It almost felt like I was playing," he said.
Morris and the Wizards have 11 games left before the playoffs begin and there are still plenty of things to sort out, both in terms of playoff seeding and within the team itself. For Morris, he is trying to get back to being the player he was before the All-Star break.
In 25 games from Dec. 26 until the break, Morris averaged 17.2 points and eight rebounds on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from three. In the 14 games since returning, Morris has put up 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three.
That's a major difference and some of it has to do with Morris dealing with a sinus infection to varying degrees for weeks.
"I have been sick. But sometimes you just have those bad games," Morris said. "My intensity hasn't changed. I'm still the same player. We've got a couple new guys. We've been trying to adjust those guys to the team. But other than that, I'm the same player with the same intensity. I'm just trying to get ready for the playoffs."
The Wizards can clinch a playoff spot on Friday night with a win over the Nets and a loss for the Pistons, who play the Magic. Pretty soon it will be official that Markieff is going to the playoffs for the first time.