We’re not sure who the Atlanta Hawks’ best player is, and it frankly doesn’t matter. Mike Budenholzer’s team is the rare one that contains multiple All-Stars but possesses a whole far bigger than the sum of its parts. But it’s safe to say the Hawks wouldn’t be where they are without the development of point guard Jeff Teague. Watch the sixth-year pro and first-time All-Star put his rare combination of athleticism and (rapidly developing) skill-set on display by utilizing a sick ball-fake that gets multiple defenders in the air before making a wide open layup in Atlanta’s thrilling 105-99 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
This was one of the most well played and competitive games we’ve seen all year. Both teams were locked-in from the opening tip, with the short-handed Hawks (they played without DeMarre Carroll and Thabo Sefolosha) playing on adrenaline gleaned from yesterday’s All-Star announcements and the Blazers doing the same – albeit for much different reasons.
Due in large part to the hounding defense of Teague, though, Damian Lillard didn’t live up to his brash boasts against the Hawks. LaMarcus Aldridge’s 37 points kept Portland afloat throughout as the visitors ably dealt with Atlanta’s deadly, balanced offensive attack.
But the Hawks simply made more shots than the Blazers when it mattered most. Kyle Korver hit consecutive jumpers midway through the fourth quarter that put his team up five, and Teague scored four points in the final two minutes to help keep Portland at bay.
Make it 18 in-a-row for Atlanta. If you aren’t sold on this team as a legitimate title contender by now, you never will be.
What do you think?
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