Jeff Teague Sees Extra Work Pay Off in Last Two Games
Rather than let himself get down in the dumps after registering six DNPs over an eight-game stretch from Feb. 11-23, Jeff Teague opted to take a proactive approach. Eager to push through the slump that had landed him near the back of the Celtics’ bench, the 32-year-old point guard hit the gym with the eagerness of a rookie.
“I think those DNPs just made me want to go a little harder,” Teague said Friday night. “So I just tried to get some extra reps in and I’m going to continue to keep doing that.”
As of late, he has seen his hard work pay off. In his last two games, Teague has logged back-to-back 14-point efforts, after reaching double figures just once in his previous 14 appearances.
His latest performance Friday night complemented a 32-point effort by starting point guard Kemba Walker, as the veteran ball-handling duo helped to spearhead a 118-112 win over the Indiana Pacers.
The victory in itself was gratifying for Brad Stevens in that it ended a three-game losing streak for his team. But the coach expressed extra delight in seeing the way Teague impacted the game after the difficulties he had faced throughout the early portion of his first Celtics season.
“I was really happy for Jeff,” Stevens said of Teague’s performance against the Pacers. “This has not been an easy transition for him. He didn’t play the way he wanted to (earlier in the season) or didn’t feel good about it. But he’s been putting in as much work as any of our young players over the last two weeks and that’s showing itself.”
The main difference for Teague has been the change in his approach, which he summed up in two words: “Be aggressive.”
“I wasn’t aggressive in those last games and that got me DNPs,” said Teague, whose heightened tenacity over the last two games earned him 14 total trips to the free-throw line. “So I said if I get a chance I’m just going to try to be aggressive and make something happen. Good or bad, let the chips fall where they may.”
Prior to the past couple of games, Teague hadn’t seen his chips fall where he had hoped they would. His transition to Boston has been challenging, but that should come as no surprise considering how he had gone 10 months without playing basketball before being thrust into an entirely new situation, amidst a pandemic, nonetheless.
“I knew it would be an adjustment period,” he said. “I mean, I didn’t think it would be like this, but you learn. It’s something that happens and I’m going to continue to grow as a player and as a person.”
All along, Teague’s teammates have remained faithful that he’d push through his struggles, knowing how much work he’s been putting in behind the scenes.
“He’s been around for a long time,” Walker pointed out of the former All-Star. “Not everything is always going to go our way. People go through adversity at points in their life, points of their careers. I mean, he had some DNPs, but he never put his head down. He just kept waiting for his opportunity, and he’s played really well.”
Walker went on to add how important Teague’s presence is for this team, taking into account his role as the eldest member of the roster.
“We need Jeff,” Walker insisted. “We need that veteran leadership, that veteran player. He knows how to play the game very well.”
Over the last two games, Teague has played quite well, and now his confidence is soaring. He’s just got to continue to stay aggressive and, as he says, “continue to stay the course.”