At the risk of surrendering their fourth consecutive loss, the Celtics prevailed from an early double-digit deficit before head coach Brad Stevens turned to his bench for reinforcements as he began to slowly pull his starters off the floor, one-by-one.
From the outset, rookie Payton Pritchard connected on a 24-foot 3-pointer, and then came Robert Williams’ slam dunk, and then finally, there was Teague checking into the game for Kemba Walker. And he joined in on the fun.
Celtics’ Jeff Teague Scores 14 Points For Second Consecutive Game
Teague drew a foul to get to the free-throw line, which was followed by a 15-foot floater that officially wiped out the Pacers’ 14-point lead and pushed the Celtics ahead.
Averaging 6.2 points while shooting 34% from the floor, 42.5% from deep this season in 17.2 minutes per game, it’s been a trying season.
Celtics’ Jeff Teague: ‘It’s Always A Learning Experience, You Take The Good With The Bad’
Teague, whose playing time has fluctuated throughout the course of the season as a result of falling in and out of Stevens’ rotation, will look to carry the momentum of this encouraging back-to-back set.
“It’s been a different experience than I’ve ever been a part of but I mean, it’s always a learning experience,” Teague said after Friday’s win. “You take the good with the bad and you keep rolling but tonight was a big win for our team. We played well, happy to see a lot of guys play well. We finally helped J.T. (Jayson Tatum), Kemba (Walker), and Jaylen (Brown) out tonight; it was big for us.”
Highlighting Teague’s presence throughout the Celtics’ comeback against the Pacers earlier in the season, Stevens liked the idea of giving Jeff early minutes. Plus, as the Celtics head coach mentioned Friday night, Teague was one of only a few positive takeaways for Boston.
“(Jeff) Teague and Payton (Pritchard) both played really well in that second game in Indiana that we won a couple of months ago as they kind of led that comeback,” Stevens said after Friday’s win. “In the late third-early fourth, Teague was probably our most encouraging performance on Wednesday, just because he hadn’t played as much. He played pretty well, especially offensively. I thought he was great tonight.”
Teague’s spark off the bench grew contagious alongside Pritchard and Robert Williams; who contributed in a big way and led the second unit to a combined 39 points accompanied by a stellar defense that led to fast-break point opportunities and, at times, kept the Pacers at bay.
Brad Stevens On Teague: ‘He’s Been Putting In As Much Work As Any Of Our Young Players’
His recent production is a testament to the hard work he’s been putting in; something that Jeff doesn’t talk about much but his head coach revealed that the team’s elder statesman has been putting in more work than the youngins.
“Payton was really good, he was really engaged and Robert (Williams) gave us certainly what he’s capable of giving us,” Stevens added. “We don’t need that scoring every single night but we need that kind of, like, the way that they played tonight. It wasn’t a great matchup tonight for the guys that normally play; they’ll get more opportunities when the matchup presents itself. But I was really happy for Jeff (Teague); this has not been an easy transition for him.
“He didn’t play the way he wanted to or didn’t feel good about it but he’s been putting in as much work as any of our young players in the last two weeks and I think that’s showing and paying off.”
For Teague, these positive results, of late, were inevitable.
“(I’ve) just continued to stay the course. I didn’t play basketball for ten months. So, I knew there would be an adjustment period,” Teague said. “I didn’t think it would be like this but, you know, you learn. It’s just something that happened. I’m going to continue to learn and grow as a player and as a person and I think those DNP’s only made me want to go a little harder. So, I just tried to get some extra reps in and I’m going to continue to keep doing that.”