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.