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.
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.