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 did not return to the game, which Atlanta won 107-101. Capela underwent an MRI on Saturday that fortunately revealed no structural damage, according to ESPN. He will be reevaluated in a week and will likely miss significant time in Atlanta's upcoming series with the Miami Heat, but Capela seems to have avoided the worst possible outcomes here.
Fortunately for Atlanta, John Collins, out since March 11 with injuries to both his finger and foot, is active for Game 1 of the Heat series. Collins and Capela are very different players, and the former replacing the latter will force the Hawks to rely far more on offense than defense, but at least the Hawks will have someone to fill in the minutes Capela is missing.
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.
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.
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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 as he averages a double-double at 11.1 points and 11.9 rebounds, but the blow will be softened with Collins being able to play.