On a night the Pistons finished with three 20-point scorers and he put up another eyebrow-raising line – 19 points, 20 rebounds – Andre Drummond cut through the typical round of postgame questions right to the chase.
“The reason we really won this game,” Drummond said, a comeback from 19 down to beat Boston, “is Peyton Siva.”
He played 15 minutes and missed all three of his shots, but before John Loyer was asked a specific question about Siva after the game, he volunteered, “How couldn’t you root for Peyton Siva down the stretch?”
He’s sat far more often than he’s played this season with Brandon Jennings and Will Bynum ahead of him and staying mostly injury free, but when opportunity tapped once at his door – Bynum’s sore foot – Siva answered before its echo faded, in full uniform.
After a few rusty first-half minutes in Friday’s loss at Brooklyn, Siva lit a fuse that helped the Pistons make a blowout respectable against the Nets. That carried over to Saturday night. In 36 weekend minutes, Siva was credited with eight assists – there’ll be another one coming when the NBA reviews Friday’s game, where Jerebko was credited with a feed of Siva’s that produced a Drummond layup – and didn’t turn the ball over once.
That’s what the box score showed. What it didn’t reveal was the fire Siva brought to a team that doesn’t often play with the sort of visible passion that becomes contagious – like the emphatic fist pump and light-up-the-gym smile he flashed after his steal led to a Rodney Stuckey layup that cut Boston’s lead to a point midway through the fourth quarter.
“His energy in the fourth quarter was tremendous,” Drummond said. “He came out, ran the show, played great defense, made smart plays on offense and passed the ball to guys who were open.”
“He’s a great player,” said Jonas Jerebko, whose 3-pointer, assisted by Siva, a minute before Stuckey’s layup had given the Pistons their first lead since the first quarter. “He moves the ball and it’s fun to have him on the court. He’s a good guy, a great teammate and he just moves the ball.”
Siva didn’t have the measurables to pull himself into the first round of the 2013 draft despite leading Louisville to the NCAA title a year ago on another first Monday of April. Listed at 6-foot-0, Siva doesn’t have the scoring instincts of Jennings or Bynum. But leadership sparks fly off of him and he has the type of personality that galvanizes teammates. It’s no accident he’s attached himself to Chauncey Billups, who works out often with Siva after practices as he rehabilitates from minor knee surgery.
It was Billups who encouraged Siva to play aggressively and passionately when Loyer called his name Saturday night, not that he needed much encouragement. That’s who he is.
“I talked to Chauncey and he told me to go out there and play aggressive and bring a lot of energy to the team,” Siva said. “He felt that’s what we needed, so that’s what I tried to do. I think everybody really bought into it and we just played with a lot of energy and it felt good to get that win.”
“If you don’t go home with a better appreciation for Peyton Siva, you really didn’t watch the game,” Loyer said. “He guarded the ball, he hustled, he got on the floor for loose balls, played with confidence. He was very, very good. You expect good things from Peyton just because he prepares so hard. If he’s not the first guy in the gym, I guarantee he’s the last to leave. He’s just been an incredible worker for us all year.”
If Siva were a football quarterback, he’d be the kind who doesn’t go to Pro Bowls or pass for 400 yards, but he wouldn’t be the guy you’d want to take the field against your team with two minutes left and a narrow lead to protect.
“You might not see a lot of things in the box score,” Siva says of himself, “but my whole thing is to get everybody involved and just win. At the end of the day, whatever it takes, whatever the coach wants me to do, just winning is what makes me feel good.”