BOSTON — There was no shortage of love for Jeff Teague in the Celtics’ locker room Wednesday evening. Over the following few hours, he proved why.
Teague finished with 22 points, six assists and two steals as an Atlanta Hawks team missing both Kyle Korver and Al Horford blew past the Celtics 105-91 at TD Garden for their 24th win in 26 games.
The 26-year-old Wake Forest product often is overlooked in rankings of the NBA’s elite point guards, but to hear his opponents tell it, that soon is likely to change.
“Just judging from last year in the playoffs, I saw him in person, and he’s been unreal,” said Celtics guard Evan Turner, whose former team, the Indiana Pacers, knocked out Teague’s Hawks in the first round. “I’ve been playing against him since high school and was always a fan of his game and his talent. The coach (Mike Budenholzer) has him playing really well.
“I remember when we played him in Philadelphia, (76ers coach) Brett Brown would say, you take the name out of it, and you take the hype and everything out of it, who is that? He said, that’s Tony Parker with probably equally as good of a jump shot. He’s tough, man. Kid’s a freak.”
Those sentiments were shared by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who, as a fellow Indiana native, has observed Teague’s game for quite some time.
“I think Teague is into that discussion with the elite point guards in the East,” Stevens said before Wednesday’s game. “I’ve seen him since he was a young kid, and we’ve always seen that he has the elite speed that guys at that position that have really dominated the game have. And then you’ve got guys around him that are talented basketball players and exceptional in their roles.”
“Consistent” was a word Stevens used multiple times to describe the slippery point guard, and that certainly applied to Teague’s performance against the Celtics. Teague scored seven points in the first quarter, seven in the second, four in the third and four in the fourth, and never missed consecutive shots.
“I don’t know what qualifies as a superstar,” Stevens said after the game, “but I know this: Nobody in the league can keep Jeff Teague in front of them. Nobody.”
— Teague wasn’t the only problem for the C’s. Expert ball movement resulted in a whole slew of wide-open looks, leading to big nights for Demarre Carroll (22 points) and Paul Millsap (18 points, nine rebounds).
After the game, Stevens, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger all referred to the Hawks, who with the victory became the first NBA team to reach 31 wins, as a “machine.” That sounds about right.
— Phil Pressey provided a late shot of energy off the bench for the Celtics, and Marcus Thornton (4-for-9, 10 points) finally found his stroke after struggling from the floor in his first four games back from a torn calf. They were the only two Boston players to finish with a positive plus/minus rating.
— Turner was spotted with ice and a wrap on his right hand after the game. He told CSNNE.com that he injured his thumb in a first-quarter tie-up with Carroll and will have it re-examined Thursday morning.
— Remember old friend Dwight Powell? Well, he did this Wednesday night in Denver:
Dwight, we hardly knew ya.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP