Paul George is one of the best perimeter defenders that the NBA has to offer.
In what seems like a logical move, especially given those two statements, the Pacers are apparently set to make the switch in deploying George as the "Teague stopper" beginning on Tuesday night in Indy.
From the Associated Press:
All-Star Paul George acknowledged he's likely to spend at least some time defending Hawks point guard Jeff Teague on Tuesday night.
"I would love to, just to change it up a little bit and give him a different look," George said after the Pacers practiced Sunday.
George said he and Frank Vogel discussed the defensive assignment Sunday, though Vogel declined to confirm the move or any other changes he might make now that the top-seeded Pacers trail Atlanta 1-0 in the first-round series.
Frankly (with no pun intended for Coach Vogel), this is the move that is screaming at the Pacers head coach right now. In fact, we discussed Indiana's potential ability to use George on Teague even before Game 1's decimation, and with their backs against the wall, it appears as if Vogel and/or George have come to the same conclusion.
In the opener (per Pro Basketball Talk), Pacers point guard George Hill grabbed most of the defensive time against Teague, and he had a tough night, allowing 1.1 points per possession to the Hawks including 16 points on 12 shot attempts. George was tracked as covering Teague on 2 possessions, and he forced a missed shot in addition to 2 converted free throws.
Teague's much anticipated match-up with George Hill could be over after just one game, but while it is usually a good thing to see the favorites on their heels, this is a move that could be a dangerous one for Atlanta. Teague's ability to get into the lane and create offense could be neutralized by George, a 6-foot-9 behemoth of a wing defender, and because the Pacers have Lance Stephenson to throw at Kyle Korver in place of George (while hiding Hill on DeMarre Carroll), there isn't a great deal of drop-off from the other perimeter players.
With all of that said, if Jeff Teague plays the same, aggressive style that he deployed in the opener, the Hawks will be more than capable of a repeat performance. Not even George could be expected to fully slow the explosively quick Teague off the dribble, and with the slight dip from Stephenson (both physically and mentally) on Korver, the sharpshooter could have a few extra open looks throughout the evening.
To be honest, I'll be interested to see just how much time George sees on Teague, especially given his offensive workload. The smart money may be on George Hill remaining the primary defender and the Pacers using George as a change-up, but until the ball is in the air, we won't know much more than we do now. Stay tuned.