Everyone is noting how important it was for the Celtics to get some rest after playing 8 games in 12 days. And clearly there were some obvious signs of tired legs in the last 3 games of that stretch (front rimming the basket, giving up on slashers when on defense, etc.).
But I note that Pierce and Doc and a couple others really commented more about the importance of getting in some practices. Then Donny Marshall made a comment last night after the Utah game that made me think that one problem that the Celtics face in stretches like that is the problem of poor competition.
Some of the teams in the NBA are so bad that literally, the Celtics can't improve by playing them. They need to practice - where they literally are playing much tougher talent than most teams in the NBA - in order to stay sharp and avoid picking up bad, lazy habits.
I think that sort of bit them in the Suns game. Yes, they were tired. But they also clearly were not sharp in technique and I think probably had gotten away with lazy defense against some of the weaker teams and that left them flat footed when Nash & Co. came running.
By mid-season, the team should have reached a level of conditioning (especially for guys coming off injuries like KG) where tiredness should not be as big of a deal. But they are probably going to face more stretches of poor teams where they will have to guard against playing down to the level of the competition.