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Paul Millsap thinks trash talking by Markieff Morris, Wizards a trap for Hawks

Paul Millsap thinks trash talking by Markieff Morris, Wizards a trap for Hawks

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.

RELATED: TRASH-TALKING IN PRO SPORTS: LOCAL STARS WEIGH IN

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

 

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Bradley Beal snubbed in NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal snubbed in NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal has been snubbed yet again.

First All-NBA, now Beal was not even included in the NBA 2K20 top 20 rankings, which were released on a livestream on Monday.

LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard topped the rankings, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and James Harden. 

In what we're sure was a completely scientific poll, SLAM Gaming asked its followers if NBA2K got the rankings right. And, at least as of post time, nearly two-thirds of participants said no. 

Ahead of Beal in the rankings included Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell and Jimmy Butler. Zion Williamson was the top rookie in the ratings. 

Beal averaged 25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last season. That's clear above Mitchell (23.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game) and Butler (18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game).

The ratings are reportedly determined by a statistically based formula, though that hasn't ever stopped fans from expressing their ire at the game's rating gurus. 

Including John Wall in 2017. 

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Wizards Summer League superlatives: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. were the stars

Wizards Summer League superlatives: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. were the stars

The 2019 Las Vegas Summer League is in the books and this one was much more interesting for the Wizards than they have been in recent years. This year, they had a host of first and second-round picks play for them, as well as some players they recently acquired in their trade with the Lakers.

Here are some superlatives to put a bow on the Wizards' time in Vegas...

Best player: Troy Brown Jr.

Though he only played one game and one quarter before he was shut down with a left knee contusion, Brown was quite clearly the best player on the Wizards' Summer League roster. In his only full game, he put up 18 points and 15 rebounds. Though he only shot 40.6 percent in his brief time in Vegas, he looked like a guy who was advanced beyond the league's level of competition.

For Brown, the question is how much it matters because he essentially did what he should do as a second-year player. It is encouraging and he should draw confidence from the experience. But now he has to show he can produce like that in real NBA games.

Best newcomer: Rui Hachimura

Hachimura only played three of the Wizards' five games and in his first two outings produced uneven results. But his third game was pure dominance, as he posted 25 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He proved a quick learner by adjusting and improving game-by-game.

All in all, it was a solid start to Hachimura's career. He displayed versatility and smarts both on offense and defense. It should give Wizards fan hope he can contribute as a rookie.

Most improved: Isaac Bonga

Many of the players on the Wizards' roster were not returning from last summer, but Bonga showed a nice leap year-over-year from what he did for the Lakers in 2018. Though he wasn't one of the Wizards' best players, he ended up with solid numbers of 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot 45.5 percent from the field in 20.2 minutes of action.

The best thing Bonga showed for the Wizards is his athleticism. He is a full 6-foot-9, yet has the mobility of a guard. He is a long ways away from being NBA-ready, but at 19 years old gives the Wizards an intriguing prospect to stash in the G-League.

Needs improvement: Issuf Sanon, Moe Wagner, Admiral Schofield

It wasn't the best Summer League showing for Sanon, the Wizards' 2018 second-round pick. He only played a total of 48 minutes in four games and shot 18.2 percent with 1.5 points per game. The Wizards were experimenting with his position, playing him both at point and off the ball, and he didn't look comfortable doing either.

Granted, Sanon's biggest strength at this point is his defense, but he doesn't seem to have any NBA-ready offensive skills. Unless he gets up to speed quickly, he will have to become really, really good on defense to make the leap overseas.

Like Bonga, Wagner debuted after coming over in the Lakers trade. But Wagner didn't have the best time in Las Vegas, as he shot just 31 percent from the field and 7.1 percent from three. It was a small sample size of just four games, but Wagner is known as a shooter and didn't look like one in the Summer League. He also had trouble on defense against quicker match-ups.

Schofield, the Wizards' 2019 second-round pick, shot poorly (38.5 FG%, 22.2 3PT%) and struggled to find his role on defense. He has some intriguing qualities, but it might take him some time to figure out how to compete against NBA athletes while lacking height and quickness to play the way he did in college.

Biggest surprise: Jemerrio Jones

Perhaps this should not be surprising because it is what Jones is known for, but his rebounding really stood out. He played only about 27 minutes in three games, yet pulled in 13 boards. That breaks out to 4.3 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game, or about one rebound every other minute. He averaged 17.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Keep in mind he is only 6-foot-5. Based on efficiency, Jones was the Wizards' best rebounder and he is the size of a shooting guard. He has a lot to improve on before he can stick around in the NBA, but it will be fun watching him grab 15-plus boards on the regular this season with the Go-Go. 

Biggest disappointment: Wizards' opponents

If there was one prevailing theme in the 2019 Summer League it was teams holding out their top draft picks either due to actual injuries or the fear they will suffer one. The Wizards saw this firsthand. They even did it themselves by keeping Hachimura out of two of their games.

The Wizards played the Pelicans without first overall pick Zion Williamson or Jaxson Hayes, the eighth pick, or even Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the 17th pick. They played the Hawks without De'Andre Hunter (fourth pick) or Cam Reddish (10th pick). And the Nets and Clippers didn't have any top draft picks of note.

The Wizards did get to see third overall pick R.J. Barrett and the Knicks in their final game. New York also had Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox, as well as Iggy Brazdeikis, who was a Summer League standout. But neither Hachimura or Brown played in that game for Washington.

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