Injuries, they are just another part of the game. However, it’s not just about the fallen player but rather those who fill his shoes.
Jeff Teague just so happens to be an example of that this postseason.
In Atlanta’s clinching game six against Orlando, Kirk Hinrich injured his right hamstring. At one point, Atlanta was moving on to the second round. On another, they were doing it without their starting point guard.
Hinrich, who was acquired from the Wizards for a bundle of players including Mike Bibby along with a first-round pick, is starting to look like someone they really didn’t need. His skill really resembles more of a shooting guard but was still a step up from an aging Bibby. Regardless, it’s Teague who seems to know how to play the position best.
Teague only averaged 14 minutes a game during the regular season for the Hawks. He has averaged 41 minutes a game in this series that has already gone five games. Against Orlando in the first round, he averaged 2.5 points a game. He’s averaging over 17 a game against the Bulls and has scored 21 points in three games.
The Bulls caused their opponents to turn the ball over 13.3 times a game during the regular season. With Teague on the court, Atlanta’s backcourt is only giving it up 4 times a game. Jeff hasn’t turned the ball over once this series.
Atlanta didn’t make waves this season. They entered the playoffs with a 44-38 record and many thought the Magic would roll them in the first round. They lucked out when Orlando’s Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas decided that it was summer vacation early and essentially disappeared before the series even tipped off.
Regardless, the Hawks are turning some heads now after driving the Bulls to a game six in Atlanta. Many see this series going seven games and Teague is the reason why. His 56 percent shooting from the field is something Chicago is not used to seeing and his defense isn’t too bad either. He’s being faced with the daunting task of defending league MVP Derrick Rose who has averaged 32 points a game in the series so far. However, he’s shooting just 40 percent from the field and is having to put up 27 shots a game. The Bulls’ main scoring comes from Rose creating plays and shots off of screens. Teague has the athleticism and length to move around these screens and stay on Rose.
Larry Drew is now being faced with the difficult decision of whether or not he should go back with Hinrich who says his hamstring feels better. It shouldn’t be that hard for him to keep Teague out on the court since he’s moving the ball better than the shoot-first Kirk. There is always the option of going with him later in the lineup or even bring him in off the bench but Drew is already having a hard time finding a lineup to stick with. He started the series by starting Marvin Williams at the power forward position but has since gone bigger by starting Al Horford with Jason Collins. The Hawks are having hard enough time hanging with the Bulls frontcourt.
Jeff Teague is an answer among the many questions Atlanta is now asking. When it comes down to it, Chicago is the better team and it’s simply not the Hawks’ series to win. They are looking at some hefty contracts with what they signed Josh Smith and Joe Johnson to and they are out of a first-round pick with their trade for Hinrich. However, having a good point guard is key to building or even changing the offense. It’s becoming more and more apparent that simply running isolation plays for the shooters in Atlanta isn’t going to work.
This young guard in his second year out of Wake Forest has hops. He adds to the pedigree that this university has to offer to the league and might be the answer for a franchise that keeps falling short. Yes, Jeff Teague is a household name of the future.