CHARLOTTE, N.C. Whether it was fatigue following Sunday's triple overtime game or simply Charlotte's youth winning out, the Boston Celtics' transition defense was about as bad as it has been in a while.
It certainly played a pivotal role down the stretch as Charlotte rallied for a 94-91 victory over the Celtics that snapped the C's season-best seven game winning streak.
"They beat us in transition basically, all game," said C's coach Doc Rivers.
Charlotte had 15 fast-break points compared to just six for the Celtics.
While the Celtics went out of their way to give the Bobcats (12-39) props for playing well, there was no way to look past the tired legs Boston players had down the stretch.
The C's shot 7-for-20 in the fourth quarter with Garnett and Pierce combining to miss seven of their 10 shots from the field. A number of those missed shots came up short, a clear sign most nights of tired legs which is understandable.
"Give them credit, they hung in there and competed," Rivers said. "We had a five-point (with 5:50) lead. Usually we close that game out. We didn't."
Missed shots and poor transition defense were just some of factors that led to the Celtics' winning streak coming to an end on Monday.
Here are some other factors outlined prior to the game, and how they actually played out.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Fatigue will be an issue, whether it's at the start of the game or in its closing moments. Doc Rivers would be hard pressed to play his guys their usual minutes after Sunday's triple overtime win over Denver. "Paul played 54 minutes. He's the guy I'm most concerned with," Rivers said. "If we have to rest guys and play them shorter minutes ... the only way I can do it is by my eyes. You'll never know how guy's feel until (tonight)."
WHAT WE SAW: It was clear that Rivers wanted to rest Pierce and Garnett in the first half as they played 13 and 12 minutes, respectively. The mental and physical drain from Sunday night caught up with both players down the stretch on Monday, with Pierce going scoreless in the fourth quarter while Garnett had eight points but missed five of his eight shot attempts which included a wide open, potential go-ahead jumper in the game's final seconds.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs. Kemba Walker: Bradley is showing that he's more than a defender with a mid-range game that has been effective lately. Walker is having a really good season statistically. But it's going unnoticed because the Bobcats are such a bad team.
WHAT WE SAW: Bradley could not deliver on what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of play. He finished with eight points, three assists, three steals and a pair of blocked shots. Meanwhile, Walker continues to be the best player on the Bobcats roster, tallying 18 points to go with six rebounds and six assists.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee was the only Celtics starter to play less than 30 minutes on Sunday, so he may very well get lots of opportunities to make an impact early on. A big game from Lee would do wonders not only for the Celtics, but also for Lee who tends to play better overall when he's more involved in the offense.
WHAT WE SAW: Like the rest of his teammates, Lee never seemed to get into any kind of flow or rhythm all game. He played just 19 minutes, scoring four points on 2-for-6 shooting.
STAT TO TRACK: One of Boston's strengths all season has been their ability to rack up lots of assists. During their current seven-game winning streak, the Celtics have won the assist battle in all but one game. And this season, Boston has a 23-6 record in games in which they have more assists.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston once again came out ahead in terms of assists with 26 compared to 22 for the Bobcats. But Charlotte swept the three big hustleeffort stat categories: points in the paint (34-32, Charlotte); second-chance points (9-6, Charlotte); and fast break points (15-9, Charlotte). It's hard to win games when opponents win all three of those categories.