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Svi Mykhailiuk heating up just in time for the Pistons

Mykhailiuk goes from zero minutes in first half to playing a major role after Josh Jackson goes down to injury

Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

When the opportunity presents itself, you need to take advantage of it. No matter what circumstances lead up to that moment when you number is called it is your chance to step up.

That has been Svi Mykhailiuk’s mindset so far this season, and it paid off with his best performance of the season in Sunday’s 122-120 loss to the Boston Celtics.

“You’ve just always got to be ready. You never know what is going to happen,” Mykhailiuk said.

The season has been full of surprises and not all of them good for Mykhailiuk who is one of the handful of incumbent players on the Pistons after an offseason of major retooling.

After career-highs in minutes, games, games started and 3-point percentage in his second year, there were big expectations for Svi entering the season. That was especially true when the team traded Luke Kennard and didn’t retain Langston Galloway and Mykhailiuk was the only deadeye shooter left standing in Detroit.

Minutes have been difficult to come by in the early going, however, and Mykhailiuk struggled when he was able to see the floor. He hit just two of his first 20 3-pointers coming off the bench and it seemed like his minutes began slipping away with the emergence of Josh Jackson and Saddiq Bey.

Mykhailiuk didn’t see any minutes in the first half against the Celtics. Then Josh Jackson appeared to sprain his ankle after a drive to the basket and Mykhailiuk’s number was called.

After entering in a four-point game, Mykhailiuk scored 15 points in 14:44, hit 3-of-6 from the perimeter and played some excellent defense. The 3-point shooting is practically expected after he shot better than 40% at high volume last season and emerged as one of the league’s best young deep threats.

But it’s the other parts of his game that are looking like more pleasant surprises as he gets more comfortable in the rotation. His defense against the Celtics was smart and aggressive — not something he showed much affinity for last season.

He is also working to be more than just a catch-and-shoot option. He was aggressive in transition and scored on the break and as a cutter. He is rounding out his game and becoming more than just a standstill 3-point threat.

Svi in transition

Svi in traffic

And the three-ball is falling with more regularity — crucial for a team that doesn’t have many reliable deep threats. Tonight’s showing follows encouraging performances in his previous two games and he’s now hit 8 of his past 16 from deep. Each of his final two treys against the Celtics gave the Pistons a lead in the fourth quarter, showing he can take and make shots when they matter most.

“All I do is work hard, play hard, and do whatever coach asks me to do to take the win,” Mykhailiuk said.

With Jackson potentially sidelined for at least a little while (he was able to walk off the court under his own power, but he was sporting a noticeable limp), his emergence and confidence couldn’t come at a better time.