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Paul Millsap on letting his play speak for itself, why he made the 'MMA' comment about Wizards

Paul Millsap on letting his play speak for itself, why he made the 'MMA' comment about Wizards

One day after the Hawks' Game 1 loss, Paul Millsap said he was intent on not letting the trash talk by Markieff Morris and the Wizards get to him, that he wanted to let his play speak for itself. Since, he has appeared to accomplish that. There have been some words exchanged in the media, but mainly from the Wizards and meanwhile Millsap has played well while Morris has struggled while dealing with foul trouble.

It's now a 2-2 series and Millsap feels he is doing just what he set out to do.

"They key to doing that is just shutting the hell up. That's it," he said about letting a back-and-forth through the media affect his game. "It's all about being a professional, man. We all know what are the right things to say. We know the politically correct answers. We know what not to say. It's just being a professional, getting out there to answer questions and do your job. That's how I see it."

Millsap has learned throughout his 10-year NBA career that sometimes it's wise to just be careful about what you say publicly. It's not just about giving opponents bulletin board material. He knows that in the playoffs each team pays more attention to what the other team says and gameplans can sometimes be exposed through the media.

[RELATED: Wizards vs. Hawks Game 5: How and what to watch]

Dwight Howard has a similar take. He has instructed some of the younger players on the team to stay out of it.

"I'm not a trash talker. A lot of the times I see no need to talk trash. I know a lot of people do it to hype themselves up. Some people just like to talk trash," Howard said. "I just feel like when you win, that's the best way to shut people up. I tell these guys all the time, the way we talk trash is by winning instead of fighting back and forth and getting into a war of words with teams."

The trash talking between teams, though, can be fun for fans and Millsap knows that. He thinks it's actually a good thing at the end of the day, what his comments about MMA and what Morris has said about him since have done to draw attention to the Wizards vs. Hawks first round matchup.

"It does [help]. I think especially to our series. Like, they had us on NBATV a lot. I think it added a little light to our series. It's interesting. As a basketball fan, I know it's good to see that. It makes it more interesting and intriguing. It sucks that I've gotta be in the middle of it. It's not going to escape me, so the better that you embrace it, the better off you are," he said.

Morris and Millsap got into it during Game 1 and it was at the podium afterwards that Millsap said the Wizards "were playing MMA." That set off several days of great quotes from both teams, including Morris' retort that the Wizards were preparing for "double MMA" in Game 2.

Millsap was asked after Tuesday's practice what message he was trying to send with the MMA line. It turns out there were no complexities behind it.

"I said it because I was in a chokehold on the ground. That's why I said it," he said with a laugh.

[RELATED: Mahinmi optimistic he can return by end of Wizards-Hawks series]

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How point guard injuries could define the Wizards' 2019-20 season in multiple ways

How point guard injuries could define the Wizards' 2019-20 season in multiple ways

This week at NBC Sports Washington, we are looking at the five biggest storylines for the Washington Wizards as they get set for 2019-20 training camp, which begins next week. Today, a look at their injured point guards...

There were many surprises with the Wizards' offseason from the time it took to hire a new general manager to letting some good players leave in free agency to even taking Rui Hachimura with the ninth overall pick. Up there among their most surprising moves has to be how they chose to handle the point guard position.

With All-Star John Wall out at least several months and possibly the entire season, the Wizards opted to let Tomas Satoransky depart as a free agent and signed two players in Ish Smith and Isaiah Thomas who are arguably back-ups at this point in their careers.

Smith offers more guarantees because of health, but he's 31 years old, shot just 41.9 percent from the field last season and is a below average defensive player. He didn't start a single game last year for a Pistons team that finished with a .500 record. And he wasn't backing up a superstar, either.

Thomas, 30, played in only 12 games last season and 32 the year before. Over the past two seasons, he has shot just 36.7 percent from the field and 29 percent from three. That is nowhere close to his All-Star days.

Behind those two is a series of question marks at the No. 3 point guard spot. They could roll with Justin Robinson, but he's an undrafted rookie. They will have Chris Chiozza in training camp, but he was an undrafted rookie last year and has only 33 minutes of NBA game experience.

Then there are guys like Jordan McRae and Troy Brown Jr., who can technically play point guard but are probably best-suited to do other things. The same goes for Bradley Beal, who could see more time on-ball this season depending on how the point guard position shakes out.

Usually, who is the third point guard isn't that big of a deal for NBA teams. But that is currently a major question for the Wizards with Wall out long-term and Thomas now likely to miss the start of the regular season due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Thomas already brought injury concerns with his surgically repaired right hip. And though thumb injuries are rarely chronic, it is on his shooting hand.

The Wizards appear likely to go throughout the entire preseason and then start the regular season without their two most accomplished point guards. It could be Smith and a hodge podge behind him. That could get interesting as the Wizards face Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and James Harden all within their first four games.

All of this brings us to Wall. Much of this won't affect him directly, as the Wizards aren't going to rush him back from rehabbing his ruptured left Achilles because they lack depth at his position.

But Wall's recovery will be a major storyline this training camp and this season, even if it is being conducted behind the scenes with few public updates. The Wizards have indicated he will probably miss all of this season. But the usual timeline for recovery from his injury doesn't call for that.

As D.C. fans saw with the 2012 Washington Nationals and pitcher Stephen Strasburg, a team's play can create an entirely new context for how a player's injury is handled. What if the Wizards are unexpectedly fairly good? What if they have realistic playoff odds in February and March, when Wall is over a year removed from his surgery?

There is an argument Wall should return this season even if the Wizards are out of the playoff mix. He could have plenty of time to recover, longer than most who have done it before, and still play dozens of games.

That would give the Wizards a baseline test for Wall as they enter an important offseason next summer. They would know what they have in their highest-paid player before they construct their roster around him. If he doesn't return next season, there will be a good deal of guesswork.

But if the Wizards are a surprise team, even one just punching for a low-tier playoff seed, it could add a completely different element. Then matters take on a different tone as the competitive drive and futures of all parties involved come into play.

It could make for a fascinating debate. But no matter what happens, it's already clear this Wizards season is going to be partly defined by injuries to their point guards, one way or another.

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Mystics respond to Liz Cambage's comments on social media: 'LOL'

Mystics respond to Liz Cambage's comments on social media: 'LOL'

After Game 3 of the WNBA Semifinals, Las Vegas Ace Liz Cambage did not mince words about her competition in the paint. 

In a postgame interview with ESPN2, Cambage told Kim Adams that the Washington Mystics have “small forwards guarding me. If they can’t handle it, get in the weight room or get out of the post."

Clearly that did not sit well with the Mystics players. That was evident on social media Sunday night.

Myisha Hines-Allen and Natasha Cloud jumped on the floor to show their strength.

Cloud went one step further to support her teammate LaToya Sanders. As a 6-3 center/forward Sanders, has been the main defender on the 6-8 Cambage for the series.

And Cloud also had a passive-aggressive retweet that reference's Cambage's comments.  

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough also had a laugh.

Until this series, the Mystics had kept the unstoppable Cambage at bay. All three regular-season contests the Mystics kept her to 16 points or fewer. A majority of that credit should be given to Sanders. The first two games of the series saw that flip, but still, she was nowhere near her performance in Game 3 with 28 points on 12-for-15 shooting.

If the Mystics needed any more motivation, they got it from Cambage. That is on top of them striving to get back to the WNBA Finals after falling short this year, the franchise still without a WNBA Championship, having the 2019 MVP on the roster and - as Imani pointed out on Twitter - the Mystics still have a 2-1 series lead. 

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