Hawks' Nate McMillan fined for saying NBA 'wants' Knicks in playoffs

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Hawks Nate McMillan close up
Hawks Nate McMillan close up

Ahead of their first round playoff matchup with the Knicks, Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan has been fined $25,000 for detrimental public comments asserting bias by the NBA relating to the 2020-21 playoffs.

In other words, McMillian said he thinks the league "wants" New York in the playoffs.

McMillan had spoken to reporters via Zoom on Wednesday, as his team prepares for its series to begin on Sunday.

"I've talked about that to the team a lot," McMillan said. "I've gone as far as saying, the league wants this. They need this. New York is a big market. It's a big market for the league. New York has been out of the playoffs for a number of years. This is a team that our league, they want to see. It's a huge fanbase. They want to see New York in the playoffs. They want to see the Lakers in the playoffs. Boston Celtics, they want to see these teams in the playoffs.

"And I put New York in that category of the league wants to see this and everyone wants to see this, even to the fact that our game was moved to Sunday. They want to see this. We have talked about that. We have talked about the advantages of this situation and some things we're going to have to face going into the game with kind of everyone picking New York to win and a lot of folks wanting to see New York in the playoffs. It's a battle. It's a challenge. All of that comes with playing in New York. They've had a really good season. I think the NBA is excited about them being back in the playoffs."

McMillan was named interim head coach of the Hawks on March 1, replacing Lloyd Pierce. Atlanta then went 27-11 under McMillan, which was the highest win total in the conference in that span.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau and All-Star Julius Randle helped turn the Knicks around this season, finishing with a 41-31 record and earning the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks had the same regular season record, but due to tiebreakers, the Knicks earned the higher seed. New York beat Atlanta all three times in the regular season when they played each other.

The Garden is set to host its first playoff series since 2013, when the Knicks finished the season with a 54-28 record and earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.