Detroit Pistons’ Svi Mykhailiuk shows why he deserves bigger role

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Since preseason, coach Dwane Casey has said the Detroit Pistons‘ offense is lagging behind their defense. 

It’s to be expected on a roster that only returned four players from last season, and had roughly two weeks to prepare for this season. Casey has had to install much of his offense on the fly, and the Pistons have often closed games cold offensively after decent starts

Their offense slowed down once again in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss against the Boston Celtics. After shooting 52.3% through the first three quarters, the Pistons shot 35% in the final period. Boston is one of the NBA’s better defensive teams, and they turned up the pressure late to help clinch a 122-120 win

Why Pistons are already playing catch-up this season ]

Svi Mykhailiuk began the season slumping from outside, but he has found his shooting touch in his past three games. And after Josh Jackson went down in the third quarter with an ankle injury, he played his best quarter of the season to keep the Pistons in the game. 

Mykhailiuk scored 14 of his 15 points in nearly 11 fourth-quarter minutes, and had four of Detroit’s seven fourth-quarter field goals. He made five of his eight shot attempts overall, and three of six 3-point attempts. 

After starting the season 2-for-18 from 3 he’s 8-for-16 during the past three games. He played significant fourth-quarter minutes in all three games, with Casey looking for consistent offense late. 

“They’re a good defensive team and they have a lot of length,” Casey said after Sunday’s loss. “We made our shots. I thought Svi came in and gave us a boost, offensively, and we made shots.”

Mykhailiuk had a number of clutch shots to keep the Pistons in the game. Back-to-back 3’s midway through the fourth quarter gave Detroit the lead twice, and he hit a pair of free throws at the 3:57 mark to give the Pistons another two-point lead. 

Given Boston’s defensive reputation and the Pistons remaining competitive against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, Casey was mostly pleased with Detroit’s offensive performance. Despite the fourth-quarter slump, they shot 47.7% overall, 44.4% from 3 (16-for-36), 88% at the line and committed just 10 turnovers. 

“I thought we had some drives in there where we had an opportunity to get a better shot, but again, it was just our defense down the stretch, a couple possessions, rebounding situations,” Casey said. “We had an opportunity to go get the ball and we knock it out on our own self. All of those things are things that we can clean up and get better at. I was happy with our offensive output and see some areas where we can get better defensively.” 

But Casey also lamented Jackson’s absence in the fourth quarter. Jackson, who started the Pistons’ past three games, exited toward the beginning of the third quarter after Boston’s Daniel Theis landed on his ankle. Casey didn’t have an update after the game. 

Pistons’ Josh Jackson might be the steal of free agency ]

The Pistons play the first of consecutive road games against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. If Jackson misses time, Mykhailiuk’s recent emergence could prepare him for a potential larger role. 

“Having Josh out is definitely tough for us, everybody knows what he brings for us,” Jerami Grant said. “But thank God, Svi stepped up and played good. Josh is huge for us.” 

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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