The Detroit Pistons turned over the basketball 18 times. At one point, they trailed by as much as 14 points. Before the game, the Pistons weren’t sure if they were going to be accompanied by James Wiseman or if he was going to be returning to Golden State.
Because the trade was still in limbo, Detroit was without Wiseman, Saddiq Bey, AND Kevin Knox. They had no business being in this game. However, with 10 seconds to go, Jaden Ivey made a three bringing the Pistons within three. Despite an 18-9 run to end the fourth quarter, it was not enough, as the Toronto Raptors survived the scare and won 119-118.
Through the first three quarters, the chances of Detroit winning looked rather slim. The Pistons has already turned the ball over 18 times. They were behind by as much as 14, which is exactly how many points they allowed off of turnovers. But great offense by Bojan Bogdanovic, Ivey, and Alec Burks kept them alive. Bogdanovic finished with 33 points, his seventh 30-point game this season. His ability to get to the line and drive by defenders was on full display. Even more impressive was his efficiency, getting to 33 points on just 18 attempts.
Ivey had a solid bounce back performance, with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Even more impressive was his seven assists with just two turnovers. Ivey hit clutch shots down the stretch, created multiple opportunities with his playmaking, and didn’t force the issue with his shot selection. Ivey has grown as a playmaker tremendously from the start of the season, and is showing why he also can run the offense alongside Cade Cunningham.
Both Burks and Hamidou Diallo were a spark plug for the Pistons off the bench, combining for 39 points. While Burks was a marksman going 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, Diallo forced the issue in the interior. And in addition, Hami showed some flashes of his midrange game, going 4-of-5 inside the arc. Taking that offensive effort and combining it with the effort he brings on the defensive end, Diallo is continuing to make a case for a key role in Troy Weaver’s restoration.
Isaiah Livers did not have a particuarly flashy game. Yet, even though Livers shot 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-4 from three, he had the highest plus-minus on the team with +16. Why? Because of the effort Livers brought on the defensive end. When he checked into the game in the first quarter, Detroit went on a 15-6 run. And when Livers was on the court in the final stretch? Detroit went on an 18-9 run. Trading Bey was reportedly in part to open more room for Isaiah Livers in the rotation. With defensive performances like Livers has had over the past two games since the deadline, it’s easy to see why.
The key to Detroit’s offensive success Sunday was their movement of the ball. The Pistons finished with 25 assists as a team, out-doing the Raptors by 4. The Pistons are currently 25th in the NBA with 22.8 assists per game. The more the ball moves, the more this offense seems to create open opportunities, whether at the cup or beyond the arc. Over their past three games, that average has increased to 23.3, with 29 total assists in their last game against San Antonio. If Detroit can continue this trend, they will surely be more competitive over their final 24 games.
The Pistons will travel to Boston for their final game before the All-Star Break. And with Woj reporting that the 4-team trade involving James Wiseman is expected to go through on Sunday, the third year big should be set to make his Pistons debut. Wiseman and crew will be tasked with facing the best team in the Eastern Conference in the Boston Celtics.
Boston will be playing in a second night of a back to back, however, as they face the Milwaukee Bucks on the road the day before. This contest versus the Celtics also comes 363 days after their season defining win over the same Celtics last February. A win that rejuvinated a struggling Pistons team that was on an eight game losing streak, helping them finish 11-14 in their final 25 games. Could this contest in Boston be a similar catalyst for the Pistons?