Celtics happy to have Svi Mykhailiuk on their side originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
BOSTON — Every time Svi Mykhailiuk took the floor opposite the Celtics, it felt like he was wearing a different jersey. But one thing remained the same: He routinely scorched the team in green.
Despite six stops in a five-year NBA career, Mykhailiuk found himself slowly shuffling towards a spot on the Ish Smith All-Stars — players who tend to have middling NBA careers yet produce some of their loudest stat lines against Boston.
Mykhailiuk, who has averaged 6.6 points while shooting 36 percent beyond the 3-point arc in 252 career games, saw his stat line jump to 10.4 points while shooting 43.6 percent beyond the arc in 10 career matchups against the Celtics.
What was it about playing Boston?
“Honestly, I have no clue,” Mykhailiuk said with a laugh when asked about his penchant for big nights against Boston. “I don’t know. It just felt like, I guess, that was my team.”
Now, the Celtics are even more his team. Boston signed the 6-foot-7 Mykhailiuk to a partially guaranteed deal late this summer while loading up on wing depth. And he is still catching the attention of Boston brass while maximizing his preseason minutes.
After not getting on the court in Boston’s exhibition opener, Mykhailiuk posted 15 points in consecutive games against the Knicks and Sixers. He made six of his 11 3-point attempts showed an ability to create off the dribble while attacking closeouts and — maybe most notably — skied for a loud put-back dunk while crashing from the weakside against the Knicks.
Despite a strong finish to last season in Charlotte, Mykhailiuk reportedly was pondering overseas offers before being a bit of a surprise addition to a Boston squad that also added wings Oshae Brissett and Lamar Stevens this offseason.
“I felt like it was a good fit for me,” said Mykhailiuk. “I did want to stay in the NBA because I feel I’m a good player and I feel like I still can play in the NBA. I just felt like Boston was a great, great chance and great opportunity to come here to be part of something special.”
While Brissett and Stevens have subsisted on defense and grit but struggled to make perimeter shots, Mykhailiuk has distinguished himself with his ability to both shoot and handle the ball. His leaping ability has aided him on the glass as well.
Last season, Mykhailiuk averaged 10.6 points and shot 40.4 percent beyond the arc in 19 games while finishing the year with Charlotte. What can he take from that experience?
“Just staying confident, staying ready,” said Mykhailiuk. “Prepare for every game the same way. And, obviously, it’s a long season, go through a lot of ups and downs, stay on the same level and just be confident.”
Boston can’t promise big minutes to anyone outside of its top six. But there should be a desire to limit the wear and tear on All-Star wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. If the minutes total for that star duo does dip even slightly from last season, there will be an opportunity for Boston’s depth wings.
The 26-year-old Mykhailiuk must show he can hold up on the defensive end. His offensive skills are undeniable. That shooting and secondary playmaking will fit nicely in Joe Mazzulla’s offense but Mykhailiuk must not be a targetable defender.
Mykhailiuk has had a positive net rating differential in all but one season in the NBA, per Cleaning the Glass data. The Hornets were nearly seven points better per 100 possessions with Mykhailiuk on the court. (His -0.5 on-court net rating was actually the best for lowly Charlotte by more than two points.)
Scanning Boston’s available numbers, Mykhailiuk found slim pickings for his usual jersey numbers like 10 and 14. Preferring something with a zero, he chose No. 50. With only three career playoff appearances, there’s an obvious draw given Boston’s potential here.
Mykhailiuk is eager to simply aid the winning culture.
“Whatever happens happens,” said Mykhailiuk . “But, obviously for me, coming to this team, the championship-caliber team, I want to play hard, play defense. Make the right plays, make smart plays, and make open shots.”
If he’s as good for Boston as he was going against the Celtics, he has the potential to muscle his way into some playing time.