The Detroit Pistons are making history for all the wrong reasons this season.

After dropping back-to-back games to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week, the Pistons set a new record for the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history. That second loss to the Nets was their 27th consecutive defeat and pushed Detroit’s count past the ‘10-’11 Cleveland Cavaliers and the ‘13-’14 Philadelphia 76ers who both racked up 26 straight losses. 

Nonetheless, the Pistons kicked off their match versus the Boston Celtics, the best team in the Eastern Conference, unquestionably determined to end their drought. Detroit played with intensity early on and managed to build a 21-point lead over Boston late in the first half. 

Cade Cunningham, the first overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft and this franchise’s cornerstone, set the tone for the Pistons as he scored 22 of his 31 points in the first half. Detroit’s effort despite their despondent situation was quite admirable and their effort seemed to catch the Celtics off guard. 

However, Boston regrouped at halftime and made quick work of the Pistons’ lead come the third quarter. The Celtics recaptured control of the game by the first minute of the fourth period as Jayson Tatum carried them back into the game. 

Detroit was unfazed and battled back as they managed to force overtime on a putback by Bojan Bogdanovic in the dying seconds of regulation. That proved to be the Pistons’ last gasp though as Boston eventually pulled away to take a 128-122 victory. 

While this Detroit team is now entrenched in the NBA record books because of this disheartening 28-game losing streak, there are still quite a few encouraging developments that have emerged during these last few weeks.

First, the spunk that Cunningham has displayed this season amidst all of the losing is admirable and is the type of attitude that affirms his place as their leader moving forward. The 22-year-old guard has taken a leap this season and is averaging career-highs in points (23.0), shooting percentages (45/33/87), and assists (7.0). Their front office eventually has to surround him with more shooters moving forward to open up the court and allow him to improve his efficiency which is the weakest part of his game at the moment. 

The return of sophomore Jalen Duren from a two-week absence with an ankle sprain should also give them a boost and greatly improves their chances of claiming their first win since October 29. Prior to their game versus the Celtics, Duren had recorded a positive +/-  in four consecutive games where he saw an average of 32 minutes. 

The Pistons are clearly a much better team when their 20-year-old center–who is averaging 12.5 points on 62.3% shooting, 11.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game this season–is on the floor and it is only a matter of time before this translates into a much-needed win. 

The recent strong play of Duren’s fellow sophomore and last year’s fifth overall pick Jaden Ivey is another welcome development as well. After a slow start to this campaign, Ivey has scored at least 13 points in seven of their last nine outings, including three contests with 22 points or more over Detroit’s four most recent games.

If Cunningham, Duren, and Ivey can sustain their recent level of play and continue to show improvement, this losing streak should come to an end sooner rather than later. Three of the Pistons’ next four opponents currently have win-loss records that are below .500 which gives them a golden opportunity to finally put an end to this dreadful run. 

This Detroit team is not as bad as these past two months suggest and it is only a matter of time before they figure it out. Changes clearly need to be made in terms of personnel, but in the interim, everybody’s focus must be concentrated on putting an end to this streak of futility before it spirals even further out of hand.