Boston − All eyes were on James Wiseman as he made his Pistons debut on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics, one of the key teams in the Eastern Conference with size that general manager Troy Weaver referenced after his deadline-day trade.
It was the final game before the All-Star break, and Wiseman’s first game with his new team was one of the most intriguing storylines of Detroit’s fourth and final meeting with Boston.
The Pistons ultimately lost, 127-109, after a formidable third-quarter comeback attempt, but Wiseman had a solid outing for his first game with a new set of teammates.
The 7-foot center made his Pistons debut at the 3:29 mark of the first quarter when he checked into the game off the bench as the only big man with a lineup of Bojan Bogdanovic, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Livers, and Alec Burks.
Wiseman contested shots, ran the floor well, rebounded and he scored inside the paint. He finished with 11 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
His first shot of the game was a corner 3-pointer that the Celtics gave him late in the first quarter. He missed the shot, but immediately adjusted on the next play and attacked Kornet inside the paint, resulting in his first points as a Piston. He scored six points and grabbed two rebounds in his first six minutes of action.
BOX SCORE: Celtics 127, Pistons 109
Wiseman had an offensive rebound that led to a mid-range shot, but his most impressive play occurred when he was double-teamed by Luke Kornet and Grant Williams. He used his length and scored a jump hook over both defenders. An inside scoring threat is something the Pistons desperately needed. If Wiseman can consistently provide that, the highly-complex trade for Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox II will be well-worth it.
Here are a few other observations from Wednesday’s loss:
Jaden Ivey’s fiery start: Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey, fresh off being named to the Skills Challenge for NBA All-Star Weekend, made three of his first four shots in the first quarter as he relentlessly attacked Boston’s interior defense. He totaled 17 points, five rebounds and four assists on Wednesday. Midway through the first quarter, Ivey picked up his fifth technical foul of the season after he disagreed with a call. Ivey is now tied with Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr. for the most technical fouls among rookies. Ivey plays with a passion that is noticeable after every play. Sometimes it provides the Pistons with a much-needed boost of energy, but other times it results in a free throw for the other team.
Tatum’s All-Star performance: There are only four days remaining until Sunday’s All-Star Game, but Tatum was already in peak form as he led the Celtics with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The four-time All-Star connected on 15-of-24 from the field and used his elusive handle to find easy layups throughout the game. Along with the All-Star nod, Tatum will also compete in this weekend’s 3-point contest. He proved why with a 6-of-10 performance from beyond the arc. Tatum received MVP chants throughout the game, but none louder than when he exited the game with just over a minute left.
Bogdanovic’s third quarter: The Pistons trailed by as many as 19 points in the third quarter and made the game a little more interesting when Bojan Bogdanovic tapped into his signature offensive zone. The veteran forward scored 14 of his team-high 26 points in the third quarter. He was 6-of-7 from the field and was able to score from all three levels of the floor. Bogdanovic did what he could to match Tatum’s superstar performance, but he needed another scoring threat on the floor with him.
Celtics sweep season series: The Pistons won’t face the Celtics anymore this season, which is probably a good thing. Boston defeated Detroit in all four meetings, powered by Tatum. The Celtics have now won each of the last six matchups, the longest winning streak by either team over the last nine seasons. Wednesday’s game against the Celtics showed just how long the Pistons have to go before they’re ready to compete with the best team in the NBA.