Hawks’ Teague a trouble-maker - for Pacers

Round One went to Jeff Teague.

The ability of the Hawks point guard to break down a defense – and distribute or score – was one of the keys of the first-round playoff series against the Pacers. Teague was more than effective with a playoff career-high 28 points in the Hawks’ 101-93 Game 1 victory.

Teague has said all season that being aggressive has been the key to his success this season. What does that really mean?

“Being a point guard, it’s knowing time and situation,” Teague said Sunday. “Paul (Millsap) is our go-to scorer. He can get to the basket. He can draw fouls. He can get in the lane. You have to feed him. You have to look for Kyle (Korver). At that same time, if you are not aggressive attacking the rim, they are not going to respect you.”

Teague was 9 of 19 from the field in Game 1. Four of his baskets were layups. He also finished with five assists.

The Pacers tried starter George Hill and then C.J. Watson to defend Teague. At one point, Evan Turner picked him up. Teague faked Turner with a cross-over dribble, stepped back and nailed a 3-pointer.

Teague has made a major adjustment to his game and his role with season under first-year coach Mike Budenholzer. Teague said his first four seasons were spent pounding the ball into the low post to players like Al Horford and Josh Smith. Now, he is running a system that calls for him to be more of a decision maker.

“That is the challenge to not drive into a crowd or be stubborn, to make the right decision if the defense is in place and find the open guy,” Budenholzer said. “It’s just a fine line. It’s something that he is getting better and better at recognizing, when to pass and when to attack. You just have to continue to trust the pass and trust your teammates. I think then the driving lanes will be there.”

Teague, played sparingly his first two seasons, has increased his scoring average each season. He finished with a career-high 16.5 points this season while still dishing out 6.7 assists.

Budenholzer said the coaching staff has spent significant time with Teague breaking down film. The key to those sessions was making better decisions and better reads.

It’s hard to argue with what Teague as done recently, especially in the playoff opener.

“It’s a lot more fun but definitely a big adjustment,” Teague said.