At first glance, rebounding played a big part in Wednesday's loss by the Atlanta Hawks to the Toronto Raptors. Atlanta actually held their own from a numbers standpoint as Toronto ended the game with a slight 48-42 edge. A deeper examination reveals 16 offensive rebounds for the Raptors which led to 26 second-chance points. That is a huge number particularly for a team that is trying to win on the road. However, it was the timing of some of those rebounds that proved costly as they short circuited Atlanta's comeback attempt in the fourth quarter.
When most people talk about rebounding, the natural inclination is to focus on the big men up front. Atlanta is used to playing with an undersized front court but that wasn't really the problem on Wednesday. Paul Millsap and Al Horford combined to grab 23 of Atlanta's 42 rebounds. That is an output that I believe Mike Budenholzer and his staff would be happy with on most nights.
Where the Hawks were lacking was rebounding from everyone else. The rest of Atlanta's starting five combined for just eight boards. The bench chipped in 11 with four of those coming from Mike Scott. Because Atlanta is often times undersized up front, Budenholzer has stressed the need for his guards to rebound and they didn't quite get the job done against the Raptors.
Here is a great example. DeMar DeRozan attacks off the pick and roll and forces the Hawks into help position. The ball eventually finds its way to the corner where Terrence Ross launches a three-point attempt. Because Atlanta's defense rotated on the drive they are no longer in position to have a body on body for the rebound. The result is a pair of Hawks engaged with Amir Johnson and DeRozan standing alone in the lane where he is able to secure the rebound.
When it comes to the rebounding discussion from the opener, this is probably the play that sticks out the most. DeRozan is at the free throw line with the Hawks trailing by four with just 33 seconds remaining. He uncharacteristically misses both opportunities but the Hawks can't capitalize because DeRozan secures the long rebound. Here the Hawks just have a fundamental breakdown as Carroll crashes hard on Patrick Patterson leaving the shooter uncovered. Was this by design? Only the coaching staff really knows but neither Teague or Korver have the time to get in position to block out DeRozan.
Kyle Lowry is one of the best rebounding point guards in the league. For a point guard, he is built like a tank but as you will see from this clip, he didn't have to use his physical abilities to grab this key offensive rebound. Atlanta had just cut the lead to four points and had all of the momentum. They force a miss but are once again unable to corral a long rebound. Again it is just bad fundamentals as Teague leaves Lowry to go stand in the paint about four feet from the basket. Patterson's shot was a brick but if Teague is anywhere near the vicinity of Lowry the Hawks have the rebound with a chance to cut further into Toronto's lead.
Rebounding is one of the hardest things to track. In many ways its a game of chance as the ball can carom in an infinite number of directions on any shot attempt. Since it is so hard to predict, it is important to keep good fundamentals to combat randomness. The good news is, all of this is correctable through practice and you can bet that the Hawks coaching staff has been through this as well.