Detroit Pistons: Day After Boston Celtics II observations

Detroit Pistons Svi Mykhailiuk. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Svi Mykhailiuk. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The usually offensive-challenged Detroit Pistons lost a shootout with the Boston Celtics, 122-120, on a last second  shot by Jayson Tatum. After sleeping on it, here are The Day After observations.

The Detroit Pistons might have played the same team twice, at the same site, within 44 hours of each other, but they were two totally different style of games.

After winning a defensive struggle on Friday over the Boston Celtics, both teams had their shooting eyes working on Sunday afternoon. A Jayson Tatum jumper with 2.9 seconds left saved the Celtics for a 122-120 victory.

The 120 points tied a season-high for the Pistons in scoring. To be that successful, against a Celtics teams known for defense, was impressive.

After thinking about it, here the Excellent, the Good, the Not So Good and the Really Not So Good observations:

The Excellent

Svi Mykhailiuk: For a while, it appeared the 6-foot-7 Ukrainian might not even get in the game. If Josh Jackson had not suffered an ankle injury, early in the third quarter, he might not have.

With no time to think how poorly he had been shooting, Mykhailiuk jumped into the game and poured in 15 points in 14 minutes, and was 3 for 6 from the three-point line. All of this was in the second half.

He showed no fear about being in a tight game with last year’s Eastern Conference finalists. Hopefully, this is the start of a good trend.

Jerami Grant: Unlike the last game, where he fizzled in the second half , Grant was a solid contributor throughout the game. Grant was a dangerous player who the Celtics had a lot of problems stopping.

Grant had 22 points and six rebounds. The 6-foot-9 forward has been averaging over 20 points a game, but, this was, by far  the toughest defense he has faced.

Take note for the future, when Blake Griffin missed time, Grant started in his power forward spot. This game, when Griffin went to the bench, Grant stayed and moved into his position.

Shining in spotlight: The game was televised nationally by NBA TV. It was the first time the Pistons have been on national television this season For much of the country, it was their first real look at the team.

All they knew beforehand was what they read; that this was the team that loaded up on centers, traded everyone away and ‘had the worst offseason’ according to one publication.

But Detroit put up a great fight against a heavily favored Boston team. It was a highly-entertaining contest, no matter who you were rooting for. It certainly was a positive look , for what Detroit is trying to do to the rest of the country.

Mason Plumlee: He earned his money again. For the second game in a row, he played well against Boston, a team which starts two centers in Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis.

Plumlee scored 13 points, had eight rebounds and played well defensively. Boston scored most of their points from outside, not against Plumlee.

A career 57.5% free throw shooter, Plumlee went 7 of 8 from the charity stripe. Many of his foul shots were important ones down the stretch, including two monster foul shots he sank that gave Detroit a 118-117 lead with 43 seconds remaining.

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The Good

Josh Jackson: Until he suffered an ankle injury, early in the third quarter,  when a Boston player inadvertently stepped on his foot, Jackson seemed to be heading toward an excellent game.

Jackson had scored 13 points in 14 minutes when he got hurt. Although his absence allowed Mykhailiuk to play, the Pistons would pay dearly for not having him on defense at the end (see Really Not Good).

Sekou Doumbouya: Like Mykhailiuk, the 6-foot-9 forward had seen his playing time cut back. He rose to the occasion, making all three of his shots and scored eight points in 14 minutes.

Doumbouya was used as a defensive substitute at the end. He was not part of the late game blunders Detroit committed in Boston’s end.

Jahlil Okafor: Remember him? After a three-game absence due to an ankle injury, Okafor was back in the rotation. Kudos to coach Dwane Casey for not making him a ‘Wally Pipp’ , and having him sit because his replacement, Isaiah Stewart, had looked good.

Okafor did well, going 3-for-3 from the field and scoring six points in eight minutes. Casey might consider moving Stewart to more time at power forward, if Okafor keeps looking good.

The Not So Good

Derrick Rose: I know he did not even play pick-up for seven months, but his low shooting percentage and turnovers are hurting the team in close games. He had 13 points and eight assists, which was good, but he was 4-for-12 from the field and had four turnovers, that was bad.

Casey also subbed for him in the final minutes when Detroit was on defense. I did not know Rose was a defensive liability but, apparently so.

When you have a 19-year-old starting at point guard (who did not do badly FYI), Rose is needed to step up in the big moments, if the Pistons want to pull out out these close games.

Fox Sports Detroit graphics: NBA TV picked up Fox Sports Detroit’s feed of the game. Knowing they had a national audience, announcers George Blaha and Greg Kelser did a good job balancing being the Pistons home broadcasters, but realizing a much bigger audience was also watching.

The productions for the season have been top notch from FSD overall. However, they had problems with the on-screen scoreboard. Several times it simply blanked out and went to all zeroes. As an NBA TV host pointed out, as the third period started, briefly Detroit held a 59-0 lead, according to the Fox scoreboard.

The Really Not So Good

Blake Griffin: You can not blame fatigue. Blake Griffin had sat out the Pistons last two games due to being in the NBA concussion protocol.

In years past, in a big game, Detroit would simply dump the ball inside to Griffin and let him go to work. But Griffin was not inside very much.

Of his 14 shots, 10 of them were three-pointers (making three). This was not an anomaly. This year, Griffin has shot more three pointers (33) than two-pointers (18).  Maybe they told him he was replacing Luke Kennard in the offense.

His passing was good, with four assists and no turnovers, and he did chip in with 13 points.

However, on the defensive end, Boston was pleased they had him guarding Marcus Smart and then switching to Tatum, on the game-winning play. Read the entire quote:

To repeat Smart’s comment: “He’s not the same Blake as he used to be”

We must remember, it was only Griffin’s fourth game after not playing for almost a year. But, it’s a situation to monitor.

Coach Dwane Casey time mismanagement: There was a lot to criticize the coach for in his end of game strategy.

Putting in rookie Saddiq Bey as a defensive replacement to guard Jaylen Brown , (13-for-16, 31 points) only to see him drift away from him, and watch Brown hit a killer three-pointer to erase a Pistons lead, blew up in his face.

His defensive alignment, where 6-9, 250-pound Griffin was somehow guarding Marcus Smart in the final possession,  was also open to question. Rookie Killian Hayes might have gotten the call, as he has played well defensively in both Boston games.

But Casey’s action, after Jayson Tatum hit the step-back over Griffin to give the Celtics a 122-120 , was egregious.

There were 2.9 seconds left on the clock. If Detroit had a timeout (which the stats on said they did have), Casey could have used it to draw up a play and, importantly, inbounded the ball on their side of the court.

If they had no timeouts left, that is on Casey for not keeping one in his pocket for an end of the game situation. Detroit looked confused on its final chance, with Griffin having a forced half-court shot blocked by Tatum at the end.

Next. 3 Takeaways from the Detroit Pistons 122-120 Loss to the Celtics. dark

There was a lot of positive things to take away from the two games with the Celtics. It was the Pistons first test against a team projected to be among the top in the Eastern Conference. They won one and forced Boston into some last-second heroics to pull out a 1-1 weekend split.

The road now gets harder, literally, as Detroit travels to Milwaukee for a Monday night game against last year’s East No. 1  seed.