In a lot of situations, the Atlanta Hawks will gladly accept nights where they break even or come close to even with their opponent on the boards. The final tally from Wednesday's win over the Dallas Mavericks doesn't really tell the entire story. While the rebounding totals finished pretty even at 51-47 in favor of Dallas, the Mavericks owned the offensive glass grabbing 20 offensive boards of which they turned into 17 second-chance points.
Those second chances short-circuited what was a pretty good overall defensive effort. Atlanta held Dallas to just 36 percent shooting, yet found themselves trailing late in the fourth quarter thanks to 19 more shot attempts generated by those offensive boards. Perhaps more telling is that crashing the offensive glass is not something that the Mavericks utilize on a nightly basis. They came into Wednesday's game dead last in offensive rebounds per game averaging just 8.4.
Former Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia was the major culprit with seven of his game-high 17 rebounds coming on the offensive end of the floor. At one point in the third, Pachulia had more offensive rebounds by himself than Atlanta did.
We have talked about the Hawks' rebounding issues in this space more than once over the last three seasons. Atlanta is currently 26th in rebounding and 27th in offensive boards per game. Part of that remains by design. Like Dallas, the Hawks don't normally prioritize crashing the offensive glass with multiple players and instead focus on their transition defense.
However, there is nothing more disheartening for a team to defend for 24 seconds only to watch the offensive team get another crack thanks to an offensive rebound. It is going to take a total team effort to fix it as well. Guys like Paul Millsap, Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore did well on the boards for the most part against the Mavericks. Atlanta needs better rebounding effort from its guards. Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver combined for three rebounds while playing over 30 minutes each.
Atlanta's rebounding issues are well chronicled and there is no easy fix without hurting their performance in other areas. It is a balancing act that the coaching staff must figure out. Still it is an area that needs to improve and one that nearly cost them a win in Dallas.
Hawks get strong contribution from bench
Part of Atlanta's inconsistent start can be traced back to the play of its bench. That group turned in a solid effort in Wednesday's win. Kent Bazemore's good season has continued with him coming now coming off the bench behind Thabo Sefolosha. Bazemore finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and knocked down a key three-pointer late in Wednesday's game to give Atlanta the lead for good.
Dennis Schroder bounced back from a string of subpar performances with a good effort off the bench finishing with 11 points on 5 for 8 shooting. Schroder came in struggling with his jump shot but looked confident while knocking down three pull-up jumpers off the pick and roll in the first half. Perhaps more importantly, he looked refreshed and engaged defensively and can hopefully build on that going forward.
Tiago Splitter returns to the lineup
Tiago Splitter returned to the court after missing the last seven games with a sore hip. Splitter checked in late in the first quarter and played 12 minutes finishing with four points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. Splitter is one of the team's best defensive options and getting him back in the rotation is big for Atlanta. Splitter is an important piece of the puzzle for Atlanta. His presence on the inside goes without saying, but his passing ability on the offensive end is equally important.