Hawks Look to Use Their Size Advantage
The Hawks are going to pose a big problem for the Celtics during the rest of this series.
It’s not necessarily a problem Boston shouldn’t overcome, but the size Atlanta added to its starting lineup in Tuesday night’s win was an issue for the Celtics.
The first three games of the series saw a lot of small ball from each side with the Celtics emerging up 2-1. Atlanta surprisingly activated Al Horford for Game 4 after he’d missed nearly four months with a torn pectoral muscle, but Hawks coach Larry Drew opted to bring the athletic, 6-foot-10 power forward off the bench in his return. His impact was limited as Boston jumped out to a huge early lead in a blowout victory.
Then in Game 5 Drew went with the type of lineup Boston figured it might avoid in the series with Horford and 7-footer Zaza Pachulia (foot) both considered unlikely to play. Drew went big — starting 6-foot-7 Joe Johnson at shooting guard, 6-foot-9 Marvin Williams at small forward, 6-foot-9 Josh Smith at power forward and Horford at center.
With size superiority at nearly every position – Kevin Garnett still edged Horford, albeit with a more slender frame – the Hawks controlled the glass in a series-salvaging triumph. Atlanta outrebounded Boston 41-33, including 13 offensive rebounds. Horford and Smith each had four offensive boards and combined for 27 rebounds overall on a night when the Boston’s center/poer forward combo of Garnett and Brandon Bass managed just 14.