Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague had not played up to his capabilities for the first three games of the series against the Washington Wizards.
He broke out of that slump in a big way Monday night.
In the regular season, Teague had been one of Atlanta's four All-Stars, along with teammates Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Al Horford. He averaged 46 percent field goal shooting for 15.9 points and seven assists per game.
Those numbers fell considerably against Washington in the playoffs.
In the Game 1 loss, Teague went 4-for-14 from the field (28.6 percent) and got to the line only twice in 34 minutes. He hurt an ankle during the game, but returned.
His shooting percentage didn't fare any better in Game 2 despite not having to deal with John Wall covering him. He hit just three of 12 shot attempts, zero of three from beyond the arc, to finish with nine points in a 106-90 win.
Game 3 in Washington went better for Teague, largely because he drew fouls and hit eight of nine free throw attempts. Getting to the line compensated for a 5-for-15 shooting performance to give him 18 points for the night -- one the Hawks lost on Paul Pierce's buzzer-beating bank shot.
Over three games versus the Wizards, Teague averaged 12.7 points on 29.3 percent shooting (12.5 percent from three) and two turnovers.
He played up to his All-Star status in Game 4.
Teague led Atlanta with 26 points on 45 percent shooting (50 percent from three) and one turnover. Ten of those points came in a crucial fourth quarter as the Hawks tried to hold off an emboldened Wizards team looking to take back the lead.
He hit all three of his free throws and came up with two timely steals from Otto Porter, Jr. and Will Bynum to stall Washington's rally.
Atlanta held a 12-point lead one minute into the fourth quarter and hung onto a nine-point margin with 4:26 left in regulation. Field goals by Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Ramon Sessions, plus a made free throw by Porter, made it a four-point contest with a little more than a minute to go.
Until Teague hit a three-point dagger at the end of the shot clock, that is.
The Wizards would come back within three points with 36 seconds let, but Paul Pierce's long range jumper wouldn't go. Game over.
Teague's offense ended up being the Hawks' best defense down the stretch, but what changed from game to game?
"We were just in attack mode all across the board. Everybody was just being aggressive, trying to get in the lane and make plays for others," Teague said in the locker room after the win. “I just had to get aggressive, you know. My ankles feel a lot better, my knees felt better. That time off helped me a lot.”
He reiterated that teamwork, not individual effort, allowed the Hawks to stay on the offensive and continue attacking. One guy flinging himself at the basket wasn't going to get the job done.
"Paul [Millsap] did a great job of rolling and creating offense for us, so his ability to roll and handle the ball like he can, he makes it a lot easier for us," he said. "My teammates did a great job of putting me in a position to be successful. But it all happened because of Paul and Al [Horford] rolling so hard to the rim."
Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer echoed his point guard's remarks. "I thought [Dennis Schroder] and Jeff [Teague] were both very good. We could put the ball in either one of their hands and get them in attack mode, get them in aggressive type of situations and then on the backside you had a second one who could play second pick and roll and get to the paint."
With the series tied at two games apiece, Teague said he knows going home doesn't guarantee a Game 5 victory.
“Came here to get two, we got one. We’re not mad about that. We’re gotta go back home and take care of business," he said. "They beat us once on our home floor so they’re comfortable playing there, but we have to make it a hostile environment. We have to play well."