Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela didn’t mince words Tuesday when asked about the physical nature of his team’s first-round matchup against the New York Knicks.
Things got tough in Game 4 in Atlanta with John Collins needing four stitches to his lip due to an errant elbow on a layup attempt by Julius Randle. Later, Randle shoved him on the forearm in retaliation for an elbow to the back that Danilo Gallinari gave to Reggie Bullock.
Capela said those moves and the Knicks’ style of play doesn’t make them a physical team.
“I don’t know if they are physical, but they are trying to play physically,” Capela said. “I feel like if they were really physical, I think we would have more problems than we have.”
Capela said the Knicks are trying to be physical, but it’s not working against the Hawks, and he said the Hawks are showing they can be physical, too.
“They’re trying to play tough, put pressure on our guys and talk trash,” Capela said. “But we can do that too. As soon as we get back here, we show them that we can do that too. We can pressure the guys too. We can talk trash too, so what are you going to do about it? Oh, and we can win with So what are you going to do about it?
“Oh Game 4, you’re going to come back again, well, it’s going to happen again. We won the game, we talked trash and pushed. So what are you going to do about it? That’s what happened. We can also be physical, but we can also win games.
“Now we are going to come to your house to win this game again and send you on vacation.”
Capela, who has averaged 9.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in the series, also said there are two ways to be physical: playing the right way and being dirty.
“They are two different games,” Capela said. “We play hard because we play the right way and we win games that way. When you play hard because that’s your last solution, I don’t take it as a team that ‘plays hard.”
Capela criticized Randle for his late push to Gallinari that led to a flagrant Type 1 foul late in the fourth quarter. When Randle went to the bench, he received hand shocks from his teammates as he took a seat.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him, but in that situation, whatever it is, you have to commit a strong foul or whatever, we just had to let them know we’re not taking that shit,” Randle said Sunday after Game 4.
Capela saw Randle’s shot a little differently.
“I was like, okay, that says it all,” Capela said. “You have no other solutions but to play that way. You think you are playing hard making fouls like that, but that’s not the game. If you can’t play hard the right way, that’s not playing hard. Those flagrant fouls, those aren’t You’re fouling in the game. You’re just trying to look physical but it doesn’t work. It’s kind of a last-ditch solution.
“That was a dirty play, retaliation or not. That’s not how you play hard. Maybe if you dunk him it could be, okay, you get it back. But just pushing, we can all shove someone.”
As for the overall intensity, Atlanta head coach Nate McMillan told the Hawks this will be the hardest game of the series on Wednesday as they try to shut out the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“I think this team is going to give everything it has, especially at home,” Capela said. “I look forward to a game that will be even more physical than the last few games have been because this could be the last game of his season. I look forward to a fight.”