Mill­sap: ‘They were play­ing MMA’

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY PETER SANTO

Ev­ery­thing is big­ger in the play­offs. The lights are brighter, the crowd is louder, and the game is of­ten more phys­i­cal.

Hawks for­ward Paul Mill­sap cer­tainly no­ticed the phys­i­cal na­ture of Game 1, a 114-107 loss to the Wizards at Ver­i­zon Center.

“We were play­ing basketball. They were play­ing MMA,” Mill­sap said.

It seemed strange that Mill­sap would be the one to ques­tion the game’s phys­i­cal­ity, as he was one of its big­gest ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

The All-Star for­ward fin­ished with 19 points on the night, 9 of which came from the free throw line. The Hawks at­tempted 39 free throws in all, in­clud­ing 22 in the first half.

Sev­eral Hawks play­ers were mak­ing their first play­off ap­pear­ance, and it showed at times on Sun­day.

“I thought they were more ag­gres­sive than us in the third quar­ter on both ends,” coach Mike Bu­den­holzer said. “Usu­ally the ag­gres­sor is re­warded, so we have to re­mem­ber that and take it for­ward.”

The Hawks had suc­cess get­ting the ball down low in the first half, but moved away from it in half two.

“It’s just the way the game was go­ing,” Mill­sap said. “We broke 100 points tonight, so I think of­fen­sively we did a pretty de­cent job. Prob­a­bly could get up a lot more shots. I think they may have got twenty-some­thing more shots than us, but de­fen­sively I think that’s where the game is go­ing to be won for us. If we get back to play­ing some defense we will help our­selves out a lot.”

For At­lanta, play­ing bet­ter defense starts with stop­ping John Wall, wh;o fin­ished with 32 points af­ter tak­ing over the sec­ond half.

“It’s tough, he’s a good player. We’ll have to fig­ure some­thing out,” Mill­sap said. “He’s go­ing to get his, that’s the prob­lem, so we can’t have guys like [Marki­eff] Morris with 20. Try to limit [Bradley] Beal’s touches and all the other guys, try to limit them as much as pos­si­ble.”

It can be easy to over­an­a­lyze the first game of a play­off se­ries. Both teams em­pha­sized just how long a best-of-seven se­ries can be. The Hawks will look to take the pos­i­tives from this one into game two on Wed­nes­day night.

“In­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively, we will get bet­ter from this,” Bu­den­holzer said. “I think at times our ag­gres­sive­ness is where it needs to be. I think it needs to go to an­other level for the en­tirety of the game. There are some pos­i­tives and a lot of things to learn from to­day.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Wizards guard John Wall drives the ball against At­lanta Hawks center Dwight Howard and team­mate Den­nis Schroder dur­ing the first half on Sun­day.

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