Wizards

Wizards

The Wizards struck first in their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks by taking Game 1 on Sunday.

Not only did they win, but afterwards it was clear the Hawks were thrown off by Washington's physical style of play and trash talking.

Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap described the Wizards as "playing MMA."

Now that he's had a night to think about Game 1, his biggest takeaway is that Atlanta needs to make sure they don't let the Wizards' instigating style to affect them.

"They're going to say some things to try to get under our skin and take us out of our game, but we're not going to fall for it," Millsap said after Hawks practice Monday on the campus of Georgetown University.

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Millsap had some run-ins with Wizards forward Markieff Morris in Game 1. They were matched up for much of the game and late in the second quarter the two were in each other's faces at halfcourt. After the game, Morris said he enjoys talking trash.

Millsap thinks it's a trap.

"I'm not going to turn it into a personal battle between me and [Wizards forward Markieff] Morris. That's what he wants me to do, take all of the focus off the team and put it on him. I'm not going to do that. I've been in the league too long. It's about the team," he said.

 

Millsap was asked on several occasions about Morris and his matchup against him. Each time he directed the conversation towards John Wall and Bradley Beal, saying they were the most important players for the Hawks to contain.

"We're fine with [Morris and Marcin Gortat] scoring. Somebody's gotta score. We don't want John Wall and Bradley Beal getting hot. I think if we can cut that out, we'll be alright," he said.

Millsap believes the Wizards were trying to set a tone and send a message in Game 1. They accomplished that, but now it's time for the Hawks to counter.

Center Dwight Howard thinks the Hawks can play the physical style and give it back to the Wizards.

"It's fun. If they allowed both teams to play as physical. I would love that," Howard said. "I thought they came out very physical, talking trash and trying to get into everybody's skin. That's great. You can't dump that. You've gotta enjoy it and embrace it."

Howard, who has been to the NBA Finals once and the conference finals three times, thinks physical play and trash talking are just part of playoff basketball.

"That's what you expect. I wouldn't expect anything less from John Wall, Markieff Morris or Bradley Beal," he said. "Every team is going to have a couple players that have that mentality where they want to talk trash and try to get under your skin."

Like Howard, point guard Dennis Schroder is ready to hit back.

"[Morris] started it at halftime when we got together. But I think that's normal. Everybody is competing and everybody is trying to win and that's the reason people talk trash," Schroder said. "They played really physical. We've gotta give them credit for that, but I think we have to come out stronger as a unit. Give them the first punch and be ready."

The Hawks will get their chance to punch back in Game 2 on Wednesday [6 p.m. on CSN].

RELATED: OUBRE SAYS MORRIS IS BETTER THAN PAUL MILLSAP