Playing the Boston Celtics in the postseason is never a comforting proposition, regardless of whether they are bringing Larry Bird or Jonas Jerebko to Atlanta.
The Hawks, Atlanta version, are 0-7 in playoff series vs. Boston. Sometimes they lose classically, as in the great Dominique Wilkins-Bird Game 7 duel in 1988. Sometimes they just lose quietly. Either way, basketball’s privileged class wins again over the have-nots. And not even Bernie Sanders is outraged.
Just because these Celtics are short on high q-rating players, and in fact are lighter on All Stars than even the Hawks, this playoff encounter, beginning Saturday night at Philips Arena, is no less unsettling. Because, they are still the Celtics, and you could put a mothers’ morning-out group in those green jerseys that rock the shamrock and they’d give the Hawks fits.
In breaking down the eighth postseason meeting with the Celtics, let’s keep this simple.
It’s all on Jeff Teague. (And a little bit on Dennis Schroder, too).
The point guard matchup in this first-round series is one of those easy, obvious keys. You have two dangerously quick fellows who have the ball in their hands all the time – Teague and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas – so, yeah, their importance is just that evident.
In four regular season games, the Hawks have done well to keep Thomas within the bounds of propriety. Compared to his season-long numbers, he has averaged two fewer points a game (20.5) and one more turnover a game (4) against the Hawks.
For his part, Teague likely will see more than the 24.8 minutes of floor time than he averaged against the Celtics this season, and it certainly would be nice if he turned that into more than the 13 points a game he produced against Boston.
It is time to put the Celtic curse to rest.
And Teague will have to be the exorcist in charge.