During his media availability on Tuesday, Capela took multiple jabs at the Knicks, calling out their lack of physicality despite that being the team’s mantra all season long.
“They’re trying to play physical,” Capela told reporters via Zoom. “I feel like if they were really physical, we’d have more problems than we’ve had. I feel like they’re trying to, but it’s not working. We’ve been doing a really good job about it. We’ve been responding really well.
“They’re trying to play tough. Pushing our guys around, talk s—t. But we can do that too and we showed them as soon as we came back here we can push guys around too. We can talk s—t as well, so whatcha gonna do about it? We can get a win with it, too, so whatcha gonna do about it?
“Now we’re coming to your home to win this game again and we’ll send you on vacation.”
The strong words from Atlanta’s big man didn’t end there.
He brought up the play at the end of Game 4 when Julius Randle blatantly elbowed Danilo Gallinari, which led to a Flagrant 1 foul. Capela was blunt with his opinion on that play he believes was “dirty.”
“You don’t get your star player to make dirty plays like that, so I think this is wrong. …Yeah, of course that was a dirty play. Retaliation or not, that’s not how you play hard,” he said.
It is worth noting that there may have been “dirty” plays on both sides. Kevin Huerter got a Flagrant 1 for pulling Nerlens Noel’s leg from underneath him in the second half as well. Then, the Randle retaliation was due to Gallinari seeming to elbow Reggie Bullock in his back while crashing the paint for a rebound. Bullock went to run to the Hawks’ bench during a timeout only to be brought back by teammates.
But Capela’s words may spark something inside a Knicks locker room searching for answers as to how to keep their season alive.
“You think that you’re playing hard doing fouls like that, but this is not the game,” he said. “If you can’t play hard the right way, this is not playing hard. Flagrant fouls, those are not in-the-game fouls. You’re just trying to look physical, but it’s not working. It’s kinda the last solution.”
Your move, New York.