Paul Millsap keys Hawks as they cut magic number to 1

Mike Stobe

In a crucial victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, Paul Millsap reminded the whole of the Atlanta Hawks fan base of why he is considered the best player on the roster.

Paul Millsap is the best player on the Atlanta Hawks roster.

In the midst of the storm of playoff positioning, long-term struggles and everything else, that point has been lost on portions of the fan base, but when times get tough and the chips are in the middle, Atlanta's All-Star power forward emerges, and that was the case on Friday night. The Hawks entered the night with a magic number of 2, but with the New York Knicks grabbing a somewhat unlikely road win over the Toronto Raptors, Atlanta desperately needed a win over a short-handed Brooklyn Nets team, and Millsap was up to the challenge.

"He's such a versatile player. He's not 100%, which a lot of guys this time of year aren't. It is amazing how he can just find a way to be effective. He can pass with either hand. He finishes a lot with his left hand. He's such a threat. When you put the ball in his hands, he's a great decision maker. He can distribute and he can score."

Sound familiar? Well, those were the words of head coach Mike Budenholzer after Wednesday's win over the Boston Celtics, and he was referring to Paul Millsap. In fairness, that quote could have been given after just about any night of this season, but when Millsap puts up 27 points and 10 rebounds in the next game after Bud makes those comments, they ring true.

In addition to the raw production in the categories of points and rebounds, Millsap did his stat-stuffing impression with a steal and 2 blocks, and he was also big at precisely the right time. With 2:03 remaining, Paul converted a circus reverse lay-up to give Atlanta the lead at 89-88, and non-coincidentally, the Nets would never scratch again as the Hawks held on for the 5-point win.

Paul Millsap wasn't on his own on Friday night (Jeff Teague was fantastic at times with 22 points and DeMarre Carroll added a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double), but with his seventh consecutive double-double, the power forward reminded everyone of just how valuable he can be, and for good measure, he even waxed poetic on the process (courtesy of NBA.com).

"It says a lot about our team, says a lot about what we're trying to accomplish here. The focus that it took to lock in, compete and to get this win, it says a lot. Guys want to win, guys want to try to make this push."

Paul Millsap wants to make the playoffs, and he played like it on Saturday night.

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