Central Notes: Mykhailiuk, Pistons, Irving, McConnell

Pistons second-year small forward Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is showing more effort on the defensive end and he’s getting more playing time as a result, Keith Langlois of the team’s website details. He scored a season-high 12 points in 22 minutes on Monday against Orlando and also cooled down Terrence Ross in the second half.

“We know who Svi is offensively, but his major challenge has been the defensive end,” Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said. “He still made a lot of mistakes (Monday), but he made up for it with hard play, compete, just being into Ross. … He was being physical, trying to get into Ross. Two weeks ago, he wouldn’t have been touching him. That’s a big first step for him.”

The Pistons hold a $1,663,861 team option on Mykhailiuk’s contract next season.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The win over the Magic was the beginning of a crucial stretch that could determine the future of the Pistons franchise, James Edwards of The Athletic writes. They could become sellers at the trade deadline and hit the reset button if things don’t turn around soon, Edwards notes.
  • While Kyrie Irving‘s stint with the Celtics ended badly, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has only good things to say about his former teammate, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer“My brother. Great teammate,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day, if I’m going to go to war, need a dog (who) can go and hoop I’m definitely going to put him on my team. I mean, the chatter is for you guys to talk about. Teams lose a couple of games and they say the same things about us — what’s going on and blah blah blah. It’s just chatter. At the end of the day, when that untucked Kyrie jersey is out everyone is scared.”
  • Pacers guard T.J. McConnell has averaged 11 PPG and 6.7 APG over the last six games and has gained a spot in the rotation, Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes. McConnell could be playing for his contract next season, as the team holds a $3.5MM option. “We knew coming in he was going to push our guards and compete for minutes, and he knew what his role was going to be,” coach Nate McMillan said. “But he’s earned the right to be out there.”

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