Teague making his presence felt

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Teague making his presence felt

BOSTON -- When the Boston Celtics were matched up with the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, talks centered around the need to slow Joe Johnson and Josh Smith on offense. Whether or not Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia would play was also discussed.

But there was little mention of the Hawks point guard, a speedy third-year player who has relatively flown under the radar all season.

Jeff Teague has made his presence known in the series, averaging 18.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in the first three contests. In the Hawks Game 3 overtime loss to the Celtics on Friday, he posted 23 points, six assists, and four rebounds.

Hes very aggressive, said Rajon Rondo. In open court, hes hard to stop. He has great quickness, hes hitting his floaters, hes hitting his mid-range shots. So a young guy stepping up, making plays for his team.

Its something long-time friend and Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson knew he was capable of all long.

Johnson and Teague met in middle school as part of the same Indianapolis (IN) basketball circle. They faced each other on AAU teams and were both named to the Indiana state all-star team.

He was athletic, could handle the ball really well, Johnson said. He could finish at the hole and hes real good in transition. I think it carried over to college (at Wake Forest University) and now in the NBA hes having a successful year.

Johnson said Teague is a better scorer than observers may have realized because his role as the Hawks starting point guard is to run the floor. But when given the opportunity to score, Teague said he attacks by getting out in transition and knocking down any open shots.

I just try to be aggressive, said Teague. I know they really try to key in on Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, so somebody has to step up and make plays with Al being out, so I just try to do it.

So far, his plan is working.

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”