Paul George, Jeff Teague

Paul George ‘would love to’ guard Jeff Teague


LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Chris Paul – who will each get All-NBA, if not MVP, votes – are the only players to score as much as Jeff Teague in the opening games of the 2014 NBA playoffs

The Hawks point guard, who averaged a career-high 16.5 points per game during the regular season, burned the Pacers for 28 points in Atlanta’s Game 1 win Saturday. He also scored 25 against Indiana in a regular-season game earlier this month.

So, the Pacers are searching for a way to contain Teague.

Michael Marot of the Associated Press:

All-Star Paul George acknowledged he’s likely to spend at least some time defending Hawks point guard Jeff Teague on Tuesday night

“I would love to, just to change it up a little bit and give him a different look,” George said after the Pacers practiced Sunday.

George said he and coach Frank Vogel discussed the defensive assignment Sunday, though Vogel declined to confirm the move or any other changes he might make now that the top-seeded Pacers trail Atlanta 1-0 in the first-round series.

Here’s how Teague scored with each Pacer defending him in Game 1:

  • George Hill: 1.1 points per possession (16 points, 7-for-12 on 2-pointers, 2-for-2 on free throws, two turnovers)*
  • C.J. Watson: 1.0 points per possession (5 points, 0-for-1 on 2-pointers, 0-for-1 on 3-pointers, 5-for-6 free throws)
  • Paul George: 1.0 point per possessions (2 points, 0-for 1 on 2-pointers, 2-for-2 on free throws)
  • Evan Turner: 3.0 points per possession (3 points, 1-for-1 on 3-pointers)
  • Lance Stephenson: 2.0 points per possession (2 points, 1-for-1 on 2-pointers)
  • Roy Hibbert: 0.0 points per possessions (0 points, 0-for-1 on 2-pointers)

*Teague also missed a 3-pointer while Hill left completely open to help on an another open player. I didn’t assign that to any defender.


To some degree, I think the Pacers problems a matter of Hill not being on the same page as Hibbert. Hill didn’t excel at keeping Teague in front of him, but when Teague passed Hill, Hibbert was rarely there to stifle the drive. Hill needn’t singlehandedly shut down Teague, but he must at least funnel him toward Hibbert.

George could take a turn on Teague, and that might work, but who guards Atlanta’s wings? Hill can rotate down to Kyle Korver or DeMarre Carroll, but that might cause its own problems. Do the Pacers want their best perimeter stopper (George) on Atlanta’s hottest player, or do they want to preserve traditional matchups throughout the floor? It’s a question with no easy answer, but Indiana must address it before a pivotal Game 2 Tuesday.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.

It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.

Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.

Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.

I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.

This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.