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Hawks coach Nate McMillan fined $25,000 for saying NBA 'wants,' 'needs' Knicks in playoffs

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The NBA fined Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan $25,000 for "detrimental public comments asserting bias by the NBA" on Thursday.

Atlanta, the No. 5 seed in the East, will open its postseason Sunday against the No. 4 New York Knicks. In comments Tuesday, McMillan said he'd mentioned to his team the league "wants" the Knicks in the playoffs.

"I've gone as far as saying the league wants this," McMillan said on a Zoom call Wednesday, via The Athletic. "They need this, New York, this is a big market for the league, and New York has been out of the playoffs for a number of years. And this is a team that our league, they want to see — there's a huge fanbase — and they want to see New York in the playoffs."

McMillan went on to mention other big-market teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics as teams the league wants playing in the postseason.

Atlanta Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan watches the action from the bench against the Washington Wizards during the second half at State Farm Arena.
Atlanta Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan watches the action from the bench against the Washington Wizards during the second half at State Farm Arena.

But the conversation came back to the Knicks. He cited the series starting in a primetime slot on Sunday as another sign of the league's interest in having New York back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

"We have talked about that, about the advantages of this situation and some things that we’re going to have to face, going into (Game 1), with everyone picking New York to win and a lot of folks wanting to see New York in the playoffs," McMillan said. "It’s a battle, it’s a challenge, just playing New York, all that comes with it.

"I think the NBA is excited about them being back in the playoffs."

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA fines Hawks coach Nate McMillan for Knicks playoffs remarks