If there’s one member of the Celtics who can’t let up right now, it’s Derrick White. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown may garner much of the defense’s attention, but White has proven in the last two games just how much his play on the offensive end can impact the result of a game for Boston.
While he’s shot well from deep throughout the series, White hadn’t logged 10 field goal attempts in a game until Game 4. That resulted in 16 points and a win. White followed that up with a team-high 24 points on 11 attempts in Game 5. Once again, that resulted in a C’s win.
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“They got a lot of focus on JB and JT,” White said after the 110-97 finish. “That’s empowering me to shoot when I’m open.”
White can be modest all he wants, but it’s not as though these open looks are just falling into his lap. Tatum and Brown are any defense’s primary and secondary focuses, respectively, but the Heat aren’t losing track of White like they might with some of the other Celtics. He has to work to create separation.
“Big-time player, big-time shots tonight. D-White came ready to play,” Brown said. “As soon as they gave him any space, he let it fly, and he got hot from downtown. … His aggressiveness is key.”
Of course, White taking more shots usually leads to him scoring more points. No surprise there. What is surprising: how well the Celtics do when White looks for his shot.
Throughout the regular season, White logged 10-plus shots in 33 games. The Celtics went 24-9 in those games. Thursday’s win was the seventh time White logged 10-plus shots in a game this postseason. Boston is now 5-2 in those games.
“He’s a very smart basketball player on both ends,” Tatum said “His awareness, his instincts — they showed tonight.”