Jeff Teague Surging as the Boston Celtics Hit the All-Star Break


I'll be the first to admit that I liked the Jeff Teague signing.  In fact, when looking at free agents last year, I felt Boston could use a guy like Teague.  A steady, veteran point guard to come off of the bench and give quality minutes was something they had been lacking.  After two strong preseason games - in which he connected on all five of his three-point attempts - Teague opened the season with a bang against the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

He poured in 19 points off of the bench and again was perfect from behind the three-point line (4 for 4).  Then, things got a bit bumpy.  Over his next four games he shot just 4 of 24 from the field.  He mixed in a couple of solid games after that, but then struggled mightily.  He shot 28% over an 11-game stretch, and then did not play in six of the next eight games.  It wasn't for health reasons, it was simply strategic.

Teague look disconnected out there.  He couldn't find his rhythm offensively, and you could tell he started to press a bit.  It wasn't just the offensive struggles, though.  Defensively - like the rest of the team - the effort wasn't there.  Teague's a solid defender, but he was getting beat consistently and wasn't bringing much of anything while on the floor.  That led to Aaron Nesmith getting more minutes, and as he played better, Teague's role all but vanished.

Since that stretch of DNP's, Teague has started to turn things around.  As the Celtics were building some momentum, closing out the All-Star break on a four game win streak, Teague was doing the same.

In those four games, Teague has shot 13 of 19 from the field, and 3 of 6 from downtown.  It's not just that he's knocking down shots though, he just looks more comfortable.  Maybe he needed a wake up call, and sitting on the bench for those games provided one.  It's not a confidence issue.  After a recent game, Teague was quoted as saying he still feels like he's one of the fastest guys in the league.  He said he's just been trying to shake the rust off, after not having played since last March.

Well, the rust appears to be off, or is at least coming off.  Teague's back to beating guys off of the dribble and getting into the paint.  His floater has been on display.  His effort and intensity on the defensive end has turned up.  In Thursday's victory over the Toronto Raptors, Teague logged 27 minutes (his second highest total all season) and had a key basket in the closing minutes to help keep the Raptors at bay.

As with the Celtics as a whole though, four games doesn't solve everything.  It's certainly great to see, and a great way to go into the All-Star break, but the jury is still out on whether this was a good move by Ainge.  We've seen the impact he can have when he's playing well, but this year we've also seen the complete opposite, and frankly we've seen more of the negative than the positive.

Teague's recent play will also help with the return of Marcus Smart.  If Teague continues to provide quality minutes, Brad Stevens can ease Smart back into things and not put too much pressure on him right away.  With Teague surging, Kemba Walker rounding into form, and the return of Smart on the horizon, Boston's point guard rotation has the potential to be very strong. 

Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Jeff Teague Surging as the Boston Celtics Hit the All-Star Break
Jeff Teague Surging as the Boston Celtics Hit the All-Star Break
Boston Sports Syndicate
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