The final Eastern Conference play-in game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks took an unfortunate turn late in the first half when Clint Capela had to be helped off the floor after a dangerous foul and collision with Evan Mobley. Capela will not return to the game due to a hyperextended knee, the Hawks later announced.
With just about 30 seconds left in the half, Caris LeVert drove along the baseline and dropped the ball off to Mobley, who was making a cut to the basket. Mobley pump-faked to get Capela out of the way and was about to go up for a dunk when Capela grabbed him around the neck and shoulders and pulled him to the ground.
As Mobley fell to the ground, his momentum took him right into Capela, who was not able to get out of the way in time. Capela’s knee appeared to hyperextend and he immediately grabbed it and collapsed to the floor in pain. After a brief examination by the Hawks’ medical staff, Capela was helped off the floor by two of his teammate and was not able to put much weight on his leg.
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To add insult to injury, the referees went to the monitor to review the play for a flagrant foul on Capela. They ultimately ruled that it was just a common foul, but many wondered if they were lenient given the circumstances.
Jalen Rose on ESPN’s halftime show said referees are influenced by game situations and the outcome of a play, even if they won’t admit it. LeBron James, meanwhile, took to Twitter to vent his frustration at officials’ inconsistency. “See that’s why we get so angry out there sometimes. Like What is and What is not a FLAGRANT?? Cause that was clearly ONE,” LeBron wrote.
Capela is a big loss for the Hawks. Not only does he average a double-double at 11.1 points and 11.9 rebounds, but the Hawks are already without John Collins due to finger and foot injuries.