Chairmen of the Boards

Saturday, April 2, 2011
By Jon Newberry

Question: How do you beat the defending Eastern Conference champions while shooting a dismal 36.7% from the field and 25% from behind the arc?

Answer: Plenty of “Boardwork”.

Result: Atlanta 88 – Boston 83

Al “Boss” Horford and Zaza Pachulia combined for 25 rebounds, leading the way for the Hawks to outrebound the Celtics 52-38. Z and Al combined for eight offensive rebounds while the entire Celtics’ team only had three. Atlanta outscored Boston 18-2 in second-chance points, and that was what won the game.

Yes, the “Boardwork” led to 18 extra points, and that was huge. But don’t discount the mental toll it takes on a team when a team scores off of offensive rebounds. Everyone works hard, plays defense and forces a contested jump shot, only to see Zaza rip away another rebound, or Al Horford slide in for another put-back. There are few things more frustrating in the game of basketball.

Coaches often talk about “winning ugly,” and Friday’s win could be used as an example in the dictionary definition.

Consider this quote from Coach Drew from the postgame press conference:

“Zaza was playing, he was playing SUPER,” said Drew. “I was not going to take him out of the game.”

There were times during the 2010-11 regular season when that quote would have seemed impossible for LD to say with a straight face.

Drew continued, “He was doing a great job, he was a presence in there. He was rebounding. He was going after loose balls. He was just doing a lot of big man things. More importantly, we got into a rhythm when he came into the game, and I did not want to disrupt that rhythm.”

Finally, Jamal Crawford was huge in this game for the Hawks. Jamal’s outburst in the second quarter when he scored 12 consecutive points for the Atlanta, helped keep the deficit manageable at halftime. Then Crawford hit a huge basket to close the third quarter and get the Hawks to within six points.