DALLAS — When it comes to all the missed defensive assignments Boston had on Friday, they need to look no further than Brandan Wright.
Because Wright, more than any other Dallas Maverick, made the Celtics pay as he scored one easy basket after another in helping the Mavs down the C's, 104-94.
Wright, who had not scored more than 16 points all season, had a season-high 23 points primarily on point-blank lay-ups and dunks.
Certainly the Mavericks deserve credit for allowing Wright to be in position to be so effective.
But more than that, this one goes down as yet another game in which the Celtics problems had more to do with their lack of execution than what the opposing team did scheme-wise.
"Defensively right now, we're just not getting it done," said Celtics guard Jason Terry.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers echoed those sentiments.
"I just thought we got lost a lot tonight on defense," Rivers said.
The Mavs used Wright to roll to the basket on pick-and-rolls consistently. Far too often, he would roll and the C's defense would not rotate or the rotation was too late.
Said Terry: "It's our coverage. We're supposed to be pulled in and helping more than what we are doing. We're glued to our men, similar to what we were doing earlier in the season and that can't happen."
Boston's struggles defending Dallas' pick-and-roll was just one of the factors leading to their third straight loss. Here are some keys outlined earlier, and how those factors played out.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A strong start always helps, especially on the road. But it takes on even greater significance for the Celtics when facing Dallas. Boston's win over the Mavs on Dec. 12 snapped a streak of four straight losses to Dallas. In that game, the C's led 27-25 after the first quarter. In the previous four losses, Dallas led after the first in each game by an average of six points.
WHAT WE SAW: The first quarter once again set the tone for how the latest matchup between Boston and Dallas played out. The C's fell behind early in the quarter and never recovered before the Mavs pushed their lead to as many as 11 points in the first which ended with Dallas ahead 30-21.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki: Two of the game's all-time greats, both are iconic figures of the NBA movement in which big men can not just impact but dominate games with their long-range shooting skills. With Father Time catching up to both players, there won't be too many more battles between these two future Hall of Famers.
WHAT WE SAW: It went pretty much how it usually goes when these two face each other, with Nowitzki getting more points while Garnett snares more boards. For the game, Nowitzki had 22 points and seven rebounds while Garnett had 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 19th double-double this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry returns to Dallas for the first time after signing with the Celtics, and that alone should provide incentive for him to play well. But more than that, he'll try and bounce back from one of his worst games as a Celtic. In Wednesday's loss at New Orleans, Terry went scoreless while missing all five of his shot attempts. "I can't wait until the third, fourth quarter and just think I can get it going," Terry said after Wednesday's loss. "So that's my responsibility. The team is counting on me. And I told them this one's on me. I'll definitely make up for it on (tonight)."
WHAT WE SAW: Terry was more aggressive at the start of the game, but it didn't necessarily result in a significant improvement over his last game in which he went scoreless. He finished with eight points off the bench, although he shot just 3-for-9 from the field with three turnovers. "All I was worried about was getting the win," Terry said. "Nothing else mattered. We didn't do it."
STAT TO TRACK: The Celtics' transition defense will need to do a decent job tonight. The Mavericks average 16.9 fast-break points per game which ranks fourth in the NBA this season.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston actually did a decent job most of the night limiting the Mavericks scoring in transition. For the game, Dallas had 11 fast-break points while Boston tallied 17 of their own.