Hawks' Millsap ready to match Morris, Wiz with 'MMA' style

After Washington won the series opener over the weekend, Millsap bemoaned aloud about how things went, saying: "The difference in the game is we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA".

A complaint about the big, bad Wizards being too physical?

The Wizards now lead the best-of-seven series, 1-0. Nowadays he's a pass-first backup for the Wizards, asked mainly to push the pace while John Wall is taking a much-needed rest.

They had to change because this game forced them to do so.

Understanding how important transition defense would be against the Wizards, the Hawks had 17 written in their locker room - the number of transition points they allowed in the first half.

Wizards: Porter scored his first basket of the game on a 20-foot jumper just 16 seconds into the second half - and less than 1½ minutes later, he picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench. He has enjoyed the best season of his career since signing a new contract with the Wizards, and they are incredibly tough to beat when he and Wall are both clicking. But to say the Wizards are wholly ineffective on defense would be an oversimplified mischaracterization.

"This is my house", Wall told Lang Whitaker of NBA.com after the game.

Washington's second unit struggled mightily early in the game but pitched in to maintain the lead early in the fourth quarter.

According to the NBA's PIE Player Impact Estimate, or PIE, rating, which measures a player's overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games they play in, Wall was responsible for a third of all game events (points, rebounds, assists, etc.) in the third quarter, almost double his average during the regular season (15.3). If he's missing at that rate, he'll absolutely leave the Hawks exposed against a Wizards backcourt that can turn every long rebound into a John Wall runout.

It was part of a stretch in which he scored seven straight points. It was a dizzying exhibition of hustle on top of hustle, which led to highlight after highlight.

Durant made 12 of 20 shots from the field, showing no issues from a recent left knee injury that sidelined him 19 games before he returned for the final three regular-season contests. The Hawks were never able to full close that gap on the way to an eight-point halftime deficit and Atlanta's offense scuffled to the tune of 36 percent shooting and 0-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc.

In that third quarter, the Wizards acted out that statistic.

"I play with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity", Wall said. "But again, we've got to go get some moves and bring them back to the court".

Said guard Bradley Beal: "We continue to feed off of that".

It's more than just collecting fast-break points, however. Two possessions later, he knocked down an 11-footer to keep pace at 50-50. Despite Jennings' Players' Tribune essay making the case for Wall as MVP, Washington's four-time All-Star broke it down as Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden, with Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas and himself in the next tier. John Wall shot an absurd number of uncontested mid-range jumpers.

All that scrambling inside could create more tension like Sunday's altercation.

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