Hawks Looking to Rebound
Coming off of two straight losses after opening the season 6-0, the Atlanta Hawks are certainly looking to bounce back tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks and get back in the win column. Coach Drew is especially focused on rebounding, but he is looking at the box scores rather than the standings. He feels strongly that making the first one look prettier will directly lead to the Hawks staying among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks are currently leading the NBA in field goal percentage, but the past few games that has not necessarily led to leads on the scoreboard. Without hesitation Coach Drew cites the team’s defensive rebounding as a problem area.
“The biggest thing to me is we need to do a better job of rebounding the basketball,” Drew said following Wednesday’s shootaround. “We’re not doing a good job collectively of rebounding the ball. I think that’s a glaring statistic when I look at the stat sheet.”
The most blatant example of what Coach is talking about was in last Wednesday’s win over Detroit. Despite shooting a scorching 60% from the field in the first half the Hawks found themselves trailing the Pistons (who shot only 43%) by four points at the break. The reason: Detroit had eight offensive rebounds compared to the Hawks one.
“It’s just not our big guys,” Drew explained, “it’s our perimeters as well. They’re not chasing down those loose balls… not positioning themselves to chase them down.”
The stat sheet won’t lie. Eight games into the season the Hawks are leading the league in FG% and fifth in the league in assists per game. Both stats are signs that the players have bought into Drew’s new offense and they are creating high-quality shots. Unfortunately, the stat sheet also reveals that the Hawks are attempting almost seven less field goals per game than their opponents. The Hawks are giving up 11.75 offensive rebounds each game while pulling down only 9.75 of their own. On top of that, the Hawks are turning the ball over 14.88 times per game (more than last year, but not bad at all) BUT they are only forcing their opponents into 12 per game.
One thing that you have to like about Coach Drew, he is always harping on hustle and effort (READ: Defense and Rebounding). The Hawks overall are out-rebounding their opponents by almost four boards per game. Still, as you can see by his comments, Drew sees much room for improvement.
NOTES FROM SHOOTAROUND:
Injury Updates – Mo and Marvin both participated in shootaround, but you should not expect to see them in uniform for tonight’s game.
“Both guys are moving around pretty well, so that was encouraging to see,” said Drew.
Thoughts on the Bucks -
Al Horford: “It’s a big game for us as well. We’re coming out and we’re at home and we have to handle our business. They’re tough defensively. You have to move the ball a lot and you can’t keep the ball on one side.”
(On Bogut playing after he missed last postseason) “It makes a big difference, but you know, we’ve played them before with Bogut, and we’ve had success.”
Coach Drew: They’re a tough team. They play extremely hard. You have to be ready to match their energy and intensity. I don’t think either team will be surprised by much.
(On Brandon Jennings) “Speed has always been kind of a problem for us. His speed and his quickness are his biggest assets and he uses both of them very well. You just have to make sure you keep him out of the paint as much as you can. That’s just every night you play an NBA game you’re basically saying the same thing about guards in terms of keeping them out of the paint.”
(On having a three game homestand) “It feels good to come home and to get a break from a back-to-back. It seems like we’ve been out on the road quite a bit and haven’t spent a lot of time here at home. I’m pretty excited about being home and I’m sure the guys are too. Just nice to be home and sleep in your own bed for a change.”