How Derrick White bailed out Joe Mazzulla in Game 6


Derrick White did his head coach a huge favor with his game-winning tip-in at the buzzer to force a Game 7. Joe Mazzulla has done a great job over the last three games, but he made some really questionable decisions in the final seconds of Game 6.

It started on Miami’s final possession, when Jimmy Butler drew a foul on Al Horford. The foul was originally called a shooting foul on Horford on a two-point attempt.

The foul was set to put Butler to the free-throw line in a position to send the game to overtime, or so we thought. For some inexcusable reason, Mazzulla decided to challenge the foul call on Horford.

Not only did Mazzulla lose the challenge, but the review also revealed that Butler’s shot attempt was a three. That gave Butler an additional free-throw attempt and a chance to take the lead, instead of the initial two shots for a chance to tie the game.

It’s worth noting Erik Spoelstra had used his challenge just 41 seconds into the second half, so Miami would have had no way to force a review.

Butler would go on to make all three free throws, as Miami would take a one-point lead with three seconds remaining — leaving Boston with just next-to no time to save their season.

Boston needed just two points to win the game, and despite shooting a season-low 7 of 35 (20%) from long range, the Celtics decided to take a three with the final shot. The play was designed for Marcus Smart, who was just one of two Celtics to knock down a triple. The other was the hero of the night.

To be clear, Smart was having himself a nice night. But with two of the best scorers in the entire league in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the floor, the shot should have gone to one of them. Not to mention, it was a really bad look from Smart, with Gabe Vincent draped all over him.

These were two very questionable decisions by Mazzulla. The challenge will be the one most focus on, but the final play should not be overlooked. The Celtics are fortunate enough to have two All-NBA talents on their roster, and the ball has to be in their hands in that situation.

If not for the work of White, Mazzulla could have been in some deep trouble for these questionable decisions. Instead, Mazzulla will now be preparing for a Game 7 with a chance to complete the greatest comeback in NBA history.

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