Two former Pistons suited up for their first game with the Boston Celtics Sunday night, a 118 - 111 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Lakers. Boston has been struck down by multiple injuries over the course of the season, leaving their front court desperately thin, meaning that both Gigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko will stand to get extended minutes in Brad Stevens' rotation.
Despite rumors that he could be bought out, Datome was excited to play for the Celtics, telling MassLive's Jay King that playing only three games in Detroit this season left him hungry to play.
"I'm happy because, you guys know, I played only three games in Detroit (this season). So, it's a new opportunity. I'm very happy, I'm very proud to wear the jersey. And we'll see what's going to happen. I'm a player, I love the NBA, I'm loving the experience. But I'm a basketball player so I would like to start playing and contributing to team results. It's my second year in the league, but it's my 12th as a pro. So I can read basketball situations. I hope I can help the team in any way, but I'm ready to do, like, anything, because I really want to play. So, whatever it costs."
In 37 games with the Pistons, Luigi averaged 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in just under 7 minutes per contest. While he was a lauded 3-point shooter in Italy, winning MVP considerations in 2013, his shot never dropped in Detroit, sporting a career slash line of .358/.186/.800. Datome's first game as a Celtic emulated many of those he played in Detroit, as he received a DNP-CD. Luigi's immediate competition for backup minutes at the 3, Gerald Wallace, scored 2 points in 9 minutes of game time.
Jonas Jerebko, who was the longest tenured Piston on the team, and was only the 51st to play over 300 career games with Detroit, drew praise from new coach Brad Stevens, who intends to give the Swedish product as much playing time as he can handle. Interested in Jerebko's length, versatility and ability to stretch the floor, Stevens believes Jonas has all the skills to fit into the Celtics' offensive system. Jerebko checked in with eight minutes left in the second quarter, but the flu he had been battling got the best of him and he only played four minutes. He finished the night with an offensive rebound and a foul.
Isaiah Thomas, who was acquired from the Suns prior to the deadline also made his debut off the bench for Beantown, scoring 21 points before getting ejected.
The Detroit Pistons will travel to Boston on March 22 and will host them at the Palace on April 8. Win or lose, I expect both Luigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko will receive a warm welcome back in Detroit, especially the former Piston 33, whose hustle and energy quickly made him a fan-favorite.