At the Highlight Factory in Atlanta on Friday, all eyes were on James Harden — and rightfully so. But early in the game, Jeff Teague compiled a highlight that will live on in video archives, among hoop junkies and Teague family dinners.
Just not on the stat sheet in the points column.
I’m going to go on record and say that Teague will record a few more fouls in his career. I doubt any of them will be as impressive as this.
Maybe “enemy” is too strong, but whatever the appropriate word ends up being, it’s safe to say that the Hawks’ Jeff Teague will get no Christmas card from Kevin Garnett. In the midst of a snail-fest in Philips Arena, there was a sudden dose of excitement of the aerial variety:
Predictably, Garnett didn’t care much for the post-dunk theatrics (which we here at All Ball thoroughly appreciate; things aren’t the same without a provoked KG).
Each day until the end of the NBA Finals, we’ll be taking a look at the conventional wisdom of the moment — which team is currently the favorite to win it all, and which team should be ashamed to still be putting on its jerseys.
Here’s how it looks on the morning of Monday, May 16.
Start planning the parade:
Pretty impressive show by the Bulls last night in Game 1. Derrick Rose continues to show why he’s the league’s MVP, getting into the lane at his choosing, and hitting several shots from the perimeter to boot. Honestly, if Rose is hitting 3-pointers, you might as well just hand the trophy to Chicago now and save the other teams the embarrassment, because he is literally unguardable when his jump shot is falling.
Here’s a question for you: Who has been the breakout young talent of these playoffs? You could say Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, or OKC’s James Harden, or perhaps Dallas’s J.J. Barea, but you’d be wrong. The answer is Chicago’s Taj Gibson, who, much like Nuke LaLoosh, announced his presence with authority last night:
The Bulls shot the ball exceptionally well last night, and that in and of itself is perhaps a little fluky, but the defensive effort (holding Miami to 82 points in 83 possession) and the offensive rebounding numbers (19 boards, leading to 31 second-chance points) are not. Those are huge advantages Chicago holds in this series, and they will carry them to a surprisingly easy series win and onto the NBA Finals.
Give it up already:
The problem the Heat have, and there is really no way to avoid it, is that they are playing three-on-five in the best of situations in this series. And that’s when their starters are on the court. What about when they need a rest?
The Heat are quality-not-quantity, and matched up against the Bulls, who had the NBA’s best bench during the regular season, they are going to be in trouble any time any of the Super Friends is off the court.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all pretty much need to play 48 minutes every night for the Heat to even have a prayer against the Bulls. And even that probably isn’t enough.
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Missed the cut: Darius Songaila, Sixers; Jeff Teague, Hawks; Ish Smith, Grizzlies
Team synopsis: Wake Forest may not seem like much, but they do have the best point guard in the NBA and the greatest power forward of all time, which makes them pretty dangerous no matter who else is on the court. Howard may not be the All-Star he was in Dallas, but he can still be pretty dangerous. Aminu and Johnson are youngsters with talent who don’t get a ton of minutes, but their per-48 stats suggest that could change down the road.