Welcome to the NBA playoffs, when the officials swallow their whistles and let the players play. (That isn’t universally true, but certainly a number of officiating teams let the game ramp up.)
The Washington Wizards took advantage of that in a 114-107 Game 1 win over Atlanta Sunday. John Wall, with his 32 points and 14 assists, stole the headlines after carving up the Hawks’ defense, but part of the Wizards’ win was they were the more physical team by far.
Paul Millsap apparently didn’t like that. Here’s what he said postgame, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
“The difference in the game was we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA,” Millsap told reporters, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They were physical. When the game is like that, we have to match their physicality. But again, we’ve got to go get some moves and bring them back to the court.”
This was clearly a message aimed for the next officiating crew. Millsap and the Hawks would like it all called a little tighter. He thought the officials let the Wizards — particularly Markieff Morris, who was on Millsap for chunks of the game — get away with too much.
Maybe, but welcome to the playoffs. If the officials are letting it get physical, the Hawks have to match it. That starts with Dwight Howard in the paint, but it means everyone out there. Millsap had 19 points on just eight shots, but he and the rest of the Atlanta starters were outplayed in this game and that has to change by Wednesday.