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Although Clint Capela is only playing in his seventh season, he’s the only Atlanta Hawks player who has played in more than one Conference Finals series. His experience should bode well for the young Hawks team who prepares to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Hawks have been the surprise team in the NBA coming off a 20-47 season record last year, making their way into the Eastern Conference Finals after securing the fifth seed in this year’s playoffs. Led by former All-Star Trae Young’s stellar play and the help of their talented roster, the Hawks still pose as an underdog because of their youth.
Capela (27), is entering his third Conference Finals in his young career. His first-two appearances were with the Houston Rockets his rookie year in 2015 and his fourth year in 2018. Capela believes that his experience can play a huge part in this series.
“This is my third time, so I’m just going to keep our guys motivated even though it’s not going to be easy,” stated Capela.
Atlanta has already ousted the No. 4 seeded New York Knicks (4-1) who swept them in the regular season and knocked out No. 1 seed Philadelphia 76ers in seven games. Even though they are a confident bunch, the Hawks still feel like they haven’t earned the respect they deserve from everyone else.
“It’s our time. I think everyone earned that right to be here and we want to prove it,” said Capela.
Most teams who don’t have experience are usually tight but the Hawks have been loose, enjoying the moment and just having fun. Capela says he realizes how big the moment is because of his experience but loves the fact that his teammates don’t “realize” the moment, they just go out and play.
“It felt weird to have to guard Stephen Curry as a rookie but now it’s my seventh year and I have experience,” stated Capela. “Now I just go out there and enjoy the moment.”
Giannis Atetokounmpo lead the No. 2 seeded Bucks in scoring and rebounding this year. The two-time MVP has averaged 28.8 points and a NBA playoff high 13.6 rebounds per game.
Then factor in USA Mens Olympic Basketball teammates Khris Middleton (averaging 23.3 points per game) and Jrue Holiday, with defensive specialist P.J. Tucker. This seems like another challenge for the Hawks and might cause matchup problems.
Caplea knows if the Hawks just concentrate on what they have to do instead of the other team, then they’ll have a chance to advance to the NBA Finals. He continues to preach just worry about “what we do”.
“Honestly, we just need to focus on more of what we have to do, what we need to apply and not overthink anything,” states Capela. “That is our main mindset.”
It’s a given that the seventh-year veteran is going to play defense, hustle, catch lobs and rebound on the court but his most valuable asset in the Eastern Conference Finals will be his experience in the locker room and on the bench.