James Wiseman encourages in debut, but Detroit Pistons swept by Boston Celtics, 127-109

Detroit Free Press

BOSTON — James Wiseman made his Detroit Pistons debut against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, nearly a week after they traded for him.

He showed flashes of why they desired him, but it came during a blowout road loss.

Wiseman finished with 11 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes, but Boston’s Jayson Tatum erupted for 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead the Celtics to a 127-109 win over the Pistons at TD Garden, before both teams take time off for the NBA All-Star break.

The Pistons cut a 19-point deficit to five in the third quarter, using a 29-15 run powered by Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Stewart. Bogdanovic scored 14 of his 28 points in the period, and Stewart added a trio of 3-pointers en route to a 14-point, six-rebound night. Stewart finished 4-for-6 from 3.

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But Tatum hit three 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the third, giving Boston enough momentum to close the game out strong. He became the first player since Michael Jordan in the 1995-96 season to score at least 30 points in four games vs. the Pistons, as the Celtics swept the season series. Malcolm Brogdon added 25 points and six assists off the bench for the league-leading Celtics (42-17), who were without All-Star forward Jaylen Brown (facial fracture).

The Pistons (15-44, third-worst in the NBA) return to play Feb. 23 in Orlando.

Here’s what we saw from Wiseman’s debut:

How did Wiseman look?

It was an encouraging debut. The third-year 7-foot center was eager to make an impact when he checked in with 3:29 remaining in the opening quarter. His first shot, a 3-pointer, came nearly two minutes later. It was an ill-advised shot with 14 seconds remaining on the shot clock, and clanged off the rim, but he made up for it.

Wiseman (5-for-9 shooting) scored his first points as a Piston on the following possession, driving from the free throw line and finishing a layup through Celtics center Luke Kornet. In the final seconds of the quarter, a blocked step-back 3-pointer from Cory Joseph ended up in Wiseman’s hands, and he calmly sank the midrange jumper to give him four points.

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Early in the second quarter, Grant Williams and Kornet double-teamed Wiseman after he caught the ball on the left block. Instead of passing out of it, Wiseman finished a high-arcing hook shot over both defenders. A pass would’ve been a safer option, but it highlighted his soft touch with the ball. His final bucket of the night was a layup after bumping Williams out of the way with a post move.

Defensively, Wiseman played with effort and handled himself on a handful of switches. He looked gassed when he checked out with about nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter following 19 minutes of action, but checked back in with fewer than five minutes to play. Tatum blew by him from the right wing on an isolation switch.

How did Wiseman affect the rotation?

Coach Dwane Casey staggered Wiseman and Duren throughout the game. Wiseman checked in for Duren late in the first quarter and was the lone big on the floor before Duren came back for him early in the second. When Wiseman entered late in the second, he shared the floor with Stewart.

Wiseman checked back in for Duren midway through the third quarter, and played with Stewart again, until Stewart left a couple of minutes later. Wiseman was once again the lone big on the floor until Duren spelled him with around nine minutes remaining in the game. When Wiseman re-entered with 4:29 to play, he shared the floor with Stewart, before Stewart exited at the 1:23 mark.

Can Wiseman fit alongside Duren or Stewart?

It remains to be seen if Wiseman and Duren can play together, given they shared all of the available minutes at the five. But Stewart knocked down four of six 3-point attempts, and that spacing made him a fit next to both centers.

Before the game, Casey said Wiseman will have to prove himself as a shooter when asked if he can play the four and five. Wiseman missed his lone 3 of the night, and looked more comfortable at the rim and from midrange. It’s possible we’ll see him play power forward down the road, but the coaching staff utilized him as a center in his debut.

Catch our podcast “The Pistons Pulse” every Tuesday morning at 5 and on demand on freep.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. See all of our podcasts and daily voice briefings at freep.com/podcasts.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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