With his team in desperate need of a victory, Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew made a lineup change for Game 4 against the Bulls, starting 7-0, 265-pound Jason Collins in place of Marvin Williams on Sunday night.
Drew indicated it primarily was a response to the Bulls’ dominance on the boards. After the Hawks outrebounded the Bulls 38-37 in a 103-95 victory in Game 1, the Bulls outrebounded the Hawks 58-39 in Game 2 and 47-34 in Game 3. The Bulls had 14 offensive rebounds in Game 2 and 18 in Game 3.
”It gives us a different look,” Drew said, ”It helps us on the glass — 18 [offensive] rebounds the last game. And we did have some success with that lineup against Orlando. I think it’s time for a change.
”Jason plays a physical game. He’s not a finesse guy. His physicality was a big reason for our success against Orlando. So we decided to go with a bigger lineup. And defensively we’re tweaking some things.”
Collins started throughout the Orlando series, which the Hawks won 4-2. But they struggle on the boards no matter which lineup they use. Even with Collins starting, the Hawks were outrebounded by the Magic 254-231 — they were the only first-round winner in this year’s playoffs to get outrebounded.
Collins scored eight points, with 11 rebounds and 22 personal fouls in 103 minutes (17.2 per game) against Orlando. He’s been a bit player in the Bulls series — he had five points and three rebounds in 7:28 of Game 1, but played just three minutes in Game 2 and 1:45 in Game 3 without scoring or getting any rebounds.
But Drew is hopeful the matchups with Collins on the floor will get Al Horford more opportunities. Horford, who scored 31 points in the Hawks 83-80 regular-season victory over the Bulls, has scored nine, six and 10 points in the first three games of this series.
”It could help Al,” Drew said. ”If they decide to match big-on-big, then it may free up Al a little bit. But there are some pros about it and some cons.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, per usual, was unfazed by the news.
”We’re prepared for whatever it is they’re going to do,” Thibodeau said. ”[With Collins starting] the rebounding changes. We’ve got to make sure we’re blocking out … be more aggressive. It’s all part of it.”