Horford praises the “incredible” Derrick White after the Celtics’ Game 5 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics were down 42-37 to the Miami Heat at halftime in Game 5 and it would have been far worse without a standout performance from Derrick White.
White helped keep the Celtics close as they tried to fight their way through a terrible first half of basketball shooting. Boston made just 13 of his 34 field goal attempts in the first 24 minutes, including a lackluster 4-of-16 mark from 3-point range.
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White was the outlier. He had a team-high 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting at halftime. The veteran also impressed defensively and as a playmaker.
White scored just three points in the second half but didn’t have to shoulder much of the offensive load as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finally woke up and led the team to a 93-80 win in the final two quarters. The Game 5 win brings Boston to the NBA Finals with a single win for the first time since 2010.
White’s great start and all-around impressive game didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates, particularly Celtics center Al Horford.
“D-White for us was incredible tonight,” Horford told reporters in his post-game press conference. “He was great. His energy, his activity, such a smart player. He made really great games.
“People probably won’t talk about it enough, but for me it was huge. The minutes he gave us and the impact he had on that game.
White’s importance was heightened in Game 5 when Marcus Smart struggled with an ankle injury in the first quarter and caught two quick fouls. White replaced him and kept the Celtics in the game with his scoring and defense.
Trading with the San Antonio Spurs to acquire White in February has paid off tremendously in these playoffs. For head coach Ime Udoka, having a guard come on with impressive two-way skills right from the start is a huge luxury. The Celtics didn’t have that type of player in their recent trips to the Conference Finals.
And if the Celtics reach the 2022 NBA Finals, White’s role as someone who can defend the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole or Luka Doncic will become even more important.