Derrick White gets comfortable in green as Celtics Secure Game 4 win

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BOSTON— Derrick White and Al Horford would not reveal how Smart Marcus watched the shootout before Game 4. Smart had been seen the day before slowly walking out of Boston’s practice facility. Ime Udoka reported moments earlier that Smart suffered a bad ankle sprain in the Celtics’ Game 3 loss to the Heat, with swelling and pain threatening his availability two nights later.

White, who scored 0 points in the loss and fell to 33.8 percent from the field and 23.7 percent from three in the playoffs, felt the urgency of the moment. He started at Smart’s and adopted a more aggressive mindset.

“I try to be more aggressive. I feel like the last game and a half I was just very passive,” White said. CLNS media at the shoot on Monday. “On both sides, just be a little more aggressive. Create for me and my teammates and try to help us anyway, but I have to be a bit more aggressive. Sometimes you just try to involve other guys, try to do other things, but you have to play your game, do what you do, and that’s what the coaching staff told me, my teammates. So go ahead and be who I’ve been in my career…do what I do.

The Celtics announced White first in introductions, Smart unable to bring the swelling and pain to a place where he could dress, and the team received its first seven points since adding the deadline rallies on the way to a 7-0, then 18-1 lead. White added a pair of steals and finished the quarter with 10 points on eight shots, adding eight rebounds, six assists and three steals on 4-for-14 shooting. Unable to break his deep slump, he dropped during of the 102-82 win where the Celtics shot just 23.5% from deep. A foundation.

Boston forced a Game 6 at home on Friday night, tying the series 2-2 and leading up to 32 points in the wall-to-wall victory. The Celtics improved to 5-0 in these playoffs after losses, winning six straight with the added pressure, if you include Game 7 against Milwaukee. The Eastern Finals that followed became a series defined by physique, injuries, depth and early responses. White took advantage of the Heat playing away from him defensively and drove in transition with Jimmy Butler late to get it back for two on the first game on Monday.

“Understanding the urgency with Marcus’ absence and the position he’s placed in,” Udoka said CLNS was key to White’s performance. “Obviously starting the game (he) will have the ball in his hands a lot more and wanted him to be confident, aggressive and he picked his places well early on. They keep him in a way, tell him to looking for his shot but also getting down and facilitating. He does it extremely well, just so happens to have had the right look, took the shots that were there and started finding the other guys.

Udoka and the Celtics have touted White’s ability to do all the little things since joining Boston, with the guard rarely able to break his shooting lull that started in San Antonio and worsened after the deal of delay. Brad Stevens called it a perfect fit. The trade initially caught White off guard, having to move across the country in February as he was expecting a child with wife Hannah. Hendrix, their first child, was born last week on Game Day 2 as the Celtics shot 20-for-40 from deep in his absence. White had missed a flight and caught the next available one, rushing to Boston from Miami.

White tried to enter where he fits on the pitch while taking turns on night duty, playing ball as much as he has done in his career. Leaning into other areas of his game to contribute and continuing to shoot the open three, the misses piled up, with 29 of 38 tries coming in on Monday. The Celtics expected to play alongside Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to free White and improve his percentages. That didn’t hold true, and confidence became a concern as some of the worst shooting struggles of his career mounted. His teammates cheer him on.

“(We) just let him know he can be comfortable with us,” Robert WilliamsIII Told CLNS media after Game 4. “Let him know he’s welcome.” I’ve been trying to do it since the day he got here. It’s hard, especially in the middle of the season, to come to a team. You see guys laughing, joking, playing, you’re the new one. I just tried to let him know that we are grateful for him, you are welcome in this brotherhood. Speak when you see something. Do not be afraid. He set the tone for us defensively early in the game.

Boston’s defensive stops, led by Williams III and Horford combined at the post, now have a net rating of +6.3 and a defensive rating of 91.2 in 76 playoff minutes together. They closed the way with White bursting through the screens over the three-point line and sending the Celtics on the run stopping the Heat’s first 14 shots.

Miami scored a point over eight minutes to start the game. White buried a three on the second possession. He entered the zone ahead of his teammates on third, lined up one-on-one with Max Strus and able to take it from dribbling to hoop. White also played a key role in keeping Strus 0-7 at the other end.

White scored Boston’s first seven points and landed his second steal in the first three minutes. He told himself as he entered the game that even if he failed, he would do so aggressively. This made his impact more comparable to that of Smart, the player replaced by White. As wide as Defensive Player of the Year’s impact can reach, he’s also looking to score, which makes Smart unpredictable and a better facilitator. The Bucks had begun daring White to shoot in Game 7, where he finished 1 for 10, and began to see Payton Prichard dig into his certain minutes.

The pair were able to share the court together in smaller lineups in Game 4, where the Celtics torched Miami. Tatum racked up 31 points in a rebounding effort. He overshot his Game 3 score in the first half of Game 4 and shot 8 for 16, including finishing an alley-oop from White at the break.

They also kicked off a two-man game at one point, reminiscent of Smart and Tatum’s chemistry in the half court.

“(White) was great. Part-time starter when the guys are away,” Udoka said. “He ticks so many boxes for us. Like I said, it’s not just things that show up on the stat sheet like scoring. He is a guy who moves the ball extremely well, in several positions. So all these guys extremely well, in multiple positions, so all these things he does for us, we don’t lose much when certain guys are in or out. With him, it was about understanding who we are here. The difference with San Antonio, where (Gregg Popovitch) is on him not to foul, I want us to be a bit more aggressive and don’t mind taking a foul or two, so he has to kind of change his mindset until then, and I tried to make it aware of what others are doing. It’s going to take some time, but I couldn’t be happier with him.

For now, White’s three-point shooting slump continues, but its prominence looms large in a physical streak that is becoming one of the healthiest and deepest runs to the finish line. Where players like White, Pritchard and Grant Williams allowed the Celtics to stack up with Miami’s rented bench.

The Heat’s starters scored just 18 points in their loss, and White is holding Strus, Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo and Kyle Lowry at 3 for 16 shots through three games.

Udoka joked after his team’s blowout Game 2 victory over the Bucks earlier this month that the Celtics don’t need Smart, adding, more seriously, that White’s defensive interchangeability has made the loss of an all-defensive player less damaging than one would assume. . Smart replied that Boston didn’t really need Udoka as he approached the podium.

White, despite playing under Udoka in his first two seasons with Spurs, is acclimating to the talking and stinging environment. A team that needs offensive colonists like him. He’s always quiet, always passive at times, always figuring out his role between on-ball and off-ball situations.

“It’s just reaching out, everyone needs a shoulder to lean on sometimes. Just reaching out as much as possible. I might just ask him what he asked for for breakfast this morning.



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