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The New York Knicks don’t scare or impress Atlanta Hawks big man Clint Capela. In a press conference following Game 4, which the Hawks won 113-96, Capela had some criticism of how the Knicks act and aimed some trash talk back at his opponents.

The Hawks are up three games to one in their first-round playoff series with the New York Knicks

Clint Capela | Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Knicks came in their first-round matchup with the Hawks as the higher-seeded team but only because of tiebreakers. The two teams finished the NBA regular season with identical 41-31 records.  

Game 1 was incredibly exciting. An almost full Madison Square Garden rocked for the first time post-pandemic and the first time in the postseason since 2013. The Knicks led for a good chunk of the game, but Hawks star Trae Young’s last-second shot silenced the raucous Garden crowd and gave Atlanta a 107-105 victory and a 1-0 series lead.

New York rebounded and took Game 2, but the Hawks have looked dominant ever since. They won Game 3 by 11 points and Game 4 by 17. The Hawks now have a chance to close the Knicks out in Game 5 and get some rest before the next series begins.

Capela says the Atlanta Hawks know how to ‘talk s**t’ and ‘push guys around too

The Knicks/Hawks series has been physical and intense even in the games that weren’t particularly close. When asked about the physicality of the series, Atlanta’s Capela had a harsh assessment of his opponents.

In a press conference following Game 4, a reporter asked the Geneva, Switzerland-born center a question she started with, “obviously, New York is a physical team.” Capela took exception to this assessment and shot back, “I don’t know if they’re physical, but they’re trying to be physical.”

“They’re trying to play tough, push our guys around, and talk s–t,” Capela continued when asked to clarify what he meant with the initial comment. “But we can do that too,” he concluded. 

Capela didn’t stop there either. “We can push guys around too, we can talk s–t as well,” said the 6-foot-10 27-year-old, “So what you gonna do about it?” After throwing down that gauntlet, he added, “And we can get the win too,” for good measure. 

If the Hawks can finish off the Knicks, they’ll likely face the Philadelphia 76ers

Unless the Washington Wizards can pull off a miraculous comeback down 3-1 to the Philadelphia 76ers, the winner of the Knicks/Hawks series will take on the No. 1 seeded Sixers. 

If the Hawks win, they will face a tough Sixers team that has the players to match up well against the Hawks and their leading scorer Young especially. The third-year scoring guard will likely see two of the best defenders in the NBA, Ben Simmons, and Mattise Thybulle, for the entire series. 

If the Sixers star big man Joel Embiid is more hurt than initial reports suggest, there could be an opening for the Hawks. Without Embiid, the team’s leading scorer at 28.5 points per game, the Sixers offense can stagnate. 

Even if Young is stifled by Philadelphia’s lanky guards, the Hawks may still have enough secondary offense and long-range shooting to get the job done and reach the Eastern Conference Finals. 

To get to that point, Capela and the Hawks still need to officially finish off the “tryin’ to play physical” Knicks, which they can do in Game 5 in the Garden. 

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference


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