Exclusive: Jeff Teague not underestimating Nets despite D-Will absence

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Atlanta Hawks star Jeff Teague doesn't expect an easy ride against the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow - despite the absence of Nets point guard Deron Williams.

Widely regarded as one of the best point-men in the NBA, Williams has been struggling with an injured left ankle and he has not travelled to London for the game at the O2 Arena on Thursday night.

Still, Teague believes the Nets have more than enough talent to pose the Hawks real problems all over the court - after all, the New York-based team beat Teague's Hawks 91-86 in their last match-up earlier this month.

"We played them last time Deron Williams didn't play and they beat us so they're a really great team, he's a great player, he's talented," Teague told GiveMeSport.

"But the Nets have a lot of talented players on their roster so you just have to go out the same way you do every night and just try to compete."

Currently second in the Southeast division behind the Miami Heat, the Atlanta Hawks are well placed to reach the playoffs again this season.

But they'll have to go a significant portion of the campaign without All-Star center Al Horford - an absence that Teague admits has been a massive blow for the Hawks.

"It was tough. He was one of our key guys, one of our top inside presence guys. And we really demanded a lot from him, and depended on him to score points and get rebounds.

"So when he went down, it was tough. But you know, guys stepped up. Pero's [Pero Antic] playing well. Gustavo [Ayon], Elton [Brand], all those guys have come into the game and made significant plays for us so far."

As well as the small matter of a crucial Eastern Conference game between two playoff hopefuls, the Hawks and the Nets have taken the opportunity to explore the sights of London.

Teague was slightly more hesitant when it came to soccer, rugby and cricket but he said he saw the value in making these trips to broaden basketball's appeal around the world.

"I know a little more about soccer [after this trip] and I watched cricket on TV last night and it reminded me of baseball a bit. I really couldn't understand it as much though.

"Hopefully basketball can come over here, and you guys can like basketball as well."

So did the trip to Stamford Bridge convert him into a die-hard Chelsea fan, a la Kevin Garnett?

"I've been to the soccer fields, that's really it for me. We went out and saw the nightlife a little bit last night and that was pretty cool.

"I'm just really learning about soccer. All I know is Real Madrid."

Maybe not, then.

Eastern Conference
Atlanta Hawks

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