In the NHL it is common to have an enforcer, someone who can set the tone with physical play or intervene when things go down between players on opposing teams. In the NBA it's less common, but the Wizards have a pretty good one in power forward Markieff Morris.
Morris was the tone-setter in the Wizards' Game 1 win over the Hawks on Sunday and has been the talk of both teams ever since. Hawks forward Paul Millsap said after Game 1 that the Wizards "were playing MMA" and that was a reference to Morris, who guarded him for much of the game.
Morris embraces that role.
"I've always been an enforcer, my whole life. My brother has been the talker and I was his backbone. I'm a guy who leads by example and not by vocal. That's what I do," he said.
Morris, put simply, is a guy you would probably hate to play against but love to have on your side. John Wall and Bradley Beal love having him as their teammate.
"He's not scared of anybody and that's a big help for our team," Wall said. "It's great. He brings other things to the game, offensively and defensively. Just with his physicality and playing defense."
"You always want to go to battle with a guy like that, somebody that you know will always have your back no matter what," Beal said. "It's great. People kind of underestimate his abilities. They underestimate his impact on the game. For us, we feed off his energy and his mindset each and every night. He's confident. He's all about us. He's all about winning. He's a great player who is unselfish. He sacrifices and he does whatever it takes to win."
If Game 1 was any indication, this is going to be a physical series and that is right within Morris' wheelhouse.