The Knicks are on the brink of elimination from the NBA playoffs and the Hawks seem ready to finish them off.
As the series returns to New York, Atlanta, the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, holds a 3-1 advantage in the series. The Hawks just need to win one more game to advance to face the winner of the 76ers vs. Wizards series.
And Hawks center Clint Capela is confident that Atlanta can get the job done.
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Why is that? Well, as Capela detailed, the Hawks have managed to match the Knicks’ confident, physical attitude, and that’s part of the reason that they were able to win both of the games on their home court.
“We showed them as soon as they came back here that we can push guys around too,” Capela said of the Hawks’ performance in Atlanta. “We can talk s— as well and get a win with it, so what are you gonna do about it? And we can get a win with it, so what are you gonna do about it?”
Certainly, the Hawks — and Trae Young, in particular — have shown a willingness to be the villain in New York’s first playoff series since 2013.
Young’s shushing of the Madison Square Garden crowd in Game 1 drew a lot of attention, and he seemed to relish hearing a bunch of “F-U” chants from the crowd. And as the series has worn on, their offense has played better and found ways to beat the NBA’s top defense.
That’s part of why the Hawks beat the Knicks by 11 and 17 points in the two contests. They got well-balanced offensive efforts out of their team against the Knicks’ strong defense.
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And as Capela said, the Hawks are playing with good physicality, which is helping them against the strong, long Knicks.
“We can be physical, but we can win games as well,” Capela said. “Now, we’re coming to your home to win this game again. We’ll send you on vacation.”
If Capela and the Hawks do send the Knicks home, it would be a disappointing end to a surprisingly good season from the Tom Thibodeau-coached team.
Meanwhile, it would also be a nice achievement for Atlanta coach Nate McMillan, who has only won one career playoff series as a coach in nine chances. His lone series victory came during the 2005 playoffs when he was with the Supersonics.
Whatever the result is, expect another physical, hard-fought battle between the Hawks and Knicks to take place at MSG on Wednesday night. Soon enough, we’ll see whether Capela’s confidence is warranted.
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