Clint Capela is in a new position as he prepares for his first playoff series with the Hawks, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Capela was always one of the younger guys with the Rockets, who reached the playoffs every season he was in Houston. Now at age 27, he is serving as a mentor to Atlanta’s younger players, many of whom are about to have their first playoff experience.
“I really feel like (I’m in) a new role here, that vet role,” said Capela, who was traded to the Hawks at the 2020 deadline, but didn’t get to suit up before the pandemic hit. “So I get to share my experience, and I really feel (listened to) about everything I say. It’s really fun to be part of it.”
There’s more from Atlanta:
- Coach Nate McMillan insists comments he made this week that drew a $25K fine from the league were “taken out of context,” according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. McMillan seemed to indicate he was concerned the Hawks wouldn’t get a fair shake from the officials in the first-round series against the Knicks because the NBA benefits from having New York in the playoffs. “My intentions were never to suggest any type of bias as it relates to the league and our upcoming playoff series,” McMillan explained. “This type of narrative does not in any way represent me and what I stand for as coach of the Atlanta Hawks.”
- There is “strong momentum” toward McMillan receiving a long-term contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). No negotiations have taken place yet, Charania adds, but they’re expected to happen after Atlanta’s playoff run ends. McMillan was 27-11 after taking over for Lloyd Price at the start of March, and the Hawks climbed from 10th to fifth place in the East.
- The Knicks won all three regular season matchups with Atlanta, but Hawks forward Kevin Huerter welcomes the opportunity to face them in the first round, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “We feel really good about ourselves,” Huerter said. “They beat us three times this year, but all three games we could have won. We like the matchup and are ready for the challenge.’’
- The Hawks will increase seating at State Farm Arena to nearly full capacity for the playoffs, Spencer adds in a separate story. There will be sections for vaccinated and unvaccinated fans.