The Knicks-Hawks series has been intense from the get-go. Two tough teams that weren't expected to be in this position when the season started now have the chance to make the 2nd round of the Playoffs, and it is bringing all the emotion out of the players and the fans. It all started with the fierce and hostile MSG crowd targeting Trae Young, but now as the Hawks have a commanding 3-1 lead and are one game away from advancing, their players have started to talk back themselves.
Hawks center Clint Capela talked with the media ahead of Game 5 and decided to make some comments about the physical style of play the Knicks are bringing to the floor:
Capela noted how the Knicks have been talking a lot of trash and playing dirty but warned them how they would do the same thing, with the addition of winning. The Knicks forte all season has been their play on the defensive side of the floor, bringing the grit and physicality to their opponents, wearing them out, and winning based on pure effort, in classic Thibodeau style. But in the playoffs, they have struggled to find offensive creation due to their lack of scorers, as the Hawks have capitalized on that and shown they have much more firepower. But this series is far from over, as MSG will be ready to keep their Knicks alive and force the series to go deep.
It didn't take long for Capela to get a response from the Knicks, and they didn't give too much attention to his words. Their All-Star Julius Randle simply said: "I don't care." And Derrick Rose, who has been the Knicks best player in this series and the only consistent source of scoring, also didn't care too much for Capela's words:
"I'm 32 years old. I never talked s**t like that in my life and I'm not going to start now.... I'm too old for that s**t."
Derrick Rose via Ian Begley
D-Rose has always been that silent but deadly type of player. But Rose will definitely remember Capela's words on the court and give the Hawks his best to send the series back to Atlanta for Game 6. The last time we heard Capela talk trash publically was in the 2018 WCF when his Rockets were close to bouncing out the Warriors, but it would all go down from there, as they lost in seven games. It looks like Capela didn't get burned enough back then, as he has the utmost confidence his Hawks will finish the Knicks.
So maybe Capela's words will be the spark the Knicks need to fuel themselves and turn things around. One thing is for sure. It will be a dog fight in MSG tonight.