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Hawks pound the paint, boards in win over Blazers

The Atlanta Hawks hammered away inside at the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday and finished with a season-high 64 points in the paint.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks improved their record against the Western Conference to 8-2 on Saturday with an impressive 115-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

If you watch this Hawks team consistently you are starting to realize that they are very adept at competing night in and night out no matter who the opponent is. Atlanta came into Saturday's game on the second night of a road back-to-back against a well rested Portland team and took it to them for most of the night.

They did so in a rather unconventional way for them however. Portland keyed on Atlanta's shooters at the perimeter and the Hawks countered by hammering away at the Blazers inside to the tune of 64 points in the paint. Atlanta's high pick and roll was very effective and Portland tried to counter with a lot of switching but again that just put the Hawks in some really favorable matchups that they were able to take advantage of.

Atlanta attempted 49 shots at the rim and converted on 65 percent of them. That led to a 31 to 12 advantage in free throw attempts.


It came at the expense of some of their other normal statistics. Atlanta was 6-17 from three-point range which is about seven fewer attempts than they typically average. Atlanta also finished with just 17 assists in large part due to the lack of resistance in the paint and the mismatches that the pick and roll produced.

Poll Mike Budenholzer about his offense and he will tell you that the goal is to attack the paint every night. Typically that produces some good looks from three-point range. Teams are starting to scheme to try to limit Atlanta's three-point shots but as they showed on Saturday they are more than capable of scoring in other ways.

Thabo Sefolosha playing well off the bench for Atlanta

Thabo Sefolosha has picked up his game considerably of late and has a key part of Atlanta's success. Sefolosha finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes off the Hawks bench on Saturday. During their four game winning streak he is averaging 8.3 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range.

Thabo's value can't always be measured in the stats. He spent a large portion of Saturday's game matched up against Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews. That was something the Hawks didn't have last season and his addition to the team's bench has played a huge part in Atlanta's overall defensive improvement.

Hawks use team effort on the boards to defeat Blazers

I was asked on Twitter Saturday night what I thought this Hawks team's biggest weakness is. My answer was rebounding as Atlanta ranks in the bottom half of the league in that category. Due to their lack of size, the Hawks rely on a team effort on the boards to get the job done. Atlanta out rebounded Portland 46-44 in Saturday's win and the Blazers entered the game as the league's No. 1 rebounding unit. Go down the Hawks box score and you see Sefolosha with 12 boards, DeMarre Carroll with nine. Kyle Korver with eight.

Paul Millsap and Al Horford combined for 11 rebounds but in a lot of instances their job is to box out their man and keep them off the glass. The Hawks rely on their guards and Carroll to come back and clean the boards. For all of the good things Atlanta did on Saturday, winning the rebounding battle can't be overlooked.