Paul Millsap dominated the Boston Celtics on Sunday night, and it was quite fun to watch, as long as you weren't rooting for the Celtics. He simply dominated Jae Crowder and the rest of the defenders that the Celtics threw his way, and put on the show that we know he is capable of displaying.
Millsap had been playing below his standards of late, but Sunday night he finally woke up, and dominated the game like we know he is capable of.
He made most of his shots happen on his own, deciding to take the game into his own hands, whether he squared up his defender one-on-one, or created a shot for himself off of the glass. That's exactly what Millsap did in the play below.
Sefolosha didn't have a particularly well shooting game. Here, he has a good look at the basket, but Millsap overpowers Terry Rozier in the paint, gets the loose ball, and goes up strong over Jared Sullinger for the basket. These are the types of plays that Millsap makes, and some of them, only he can make. If he assumes that the shot by Sefolosha goes in, the Celtics have an easy rebound going the other way. Instead, it turns into a three-point play for the Hawks.
Millsap had Jae Crowder on him for much of the game, and there's little doubt that he would have wanted it any other way. Any time Millsap was able to get Crowder in a one-on-one situation near the paint, he was going to take advantage of it.
On this particular possession, Millsap establishes his position early, then faces the basket upon receiving the ball. He hits Crowder with a quick pump fake, and takes a hard step to his left to get Crowder's momentum going in that direction, from there, he's already won the battle. Millsap then takes a couple of dribbles to the left, having beat Crowder, and is able to get himself an open floater.
The second half was very much the same for Millsap, who kept chugging along. On this particular play, Millsap saw that he had Evan Turner off balance, and plenty of room to attack the basket.
Turner was clearly not ready to guard Millsap one-on-one in that position. We had seen Paul take advantage of guys in the post all game, but he put on a nice display of his ball-handling ability here, keeping Turner guessing, and eventually drawing the foul, and absorbing the contact as he does so well.
Early in the fourth quarter, it was clear by then that Millsap was going to get what he wanted. He further showed his versatility, after receiving a Jeff Teague pass just outside the three-point arc, where he had just enough space on Amir Johnson to get a head of steam, and attack the basket.
Millsap was able to knock down the basket, and drew yet another foul, resulting in another three-point play. The strength of Millsap combined with his ability to finish was on full display, and this particular play might have been the perfect example of such. Johnson had his arm wrapped around Millsap, but it didn't matter. Johnson went falling to the floor, and Millsap continued to boost his already impressive box score.
Despite the Hawks loss, this has to be a bright spot for the team heading into Tuesday's Game 5 at home in Atlanta. Millsap had taken heat all series for not coming through, and he made sure he was going to Sunday night. Sure, he had some open looks at three that attributed to his great scoring numbers, but a lot of his points came from straight hustle plays, and him creating his own shot. He earned every point on Sunday.
Even in a loss, it was still fun to see Millsap putting on a clinic. Hopefully we see a similar performance come Tuesday.