White’s Career-High Scoring Night Leads C’s to 3-1 Lead in Miami

Less than one year after tipping in the winning bucket in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the South Beach Boogeyman returned to Miami to terrorize the Heat once again.

Last time, it had been a single, heart-stopping play that Derrick White delivered at Kaseya Center; this time, he produced a full 48-minute nightmare to lift the Celtics to a 102-88 Game 4 win to give them a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

White turned in the performance of his life Monday night, pouring in a career-high 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the field, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range.

White opened the game with a 16-point first quarter, tying his career high for playoff points in a single frame.

“I think any person that gets a couple going in and you start making some tough ones, you feel like you just can't miss, and that basket seems huge,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”

White said he could have scored zero points and still would have had fun just by getting the win down in Miami. Being the star of the game was just a bonus.

However, the Celtics need those types of performances out of White because when he’s hot, it takes some of the pressure off guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and allows the offense to flow even more freely.

“When he's being aggressive, it just opens everything up,” said Tatum, who logged 20 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. “Whatever they try and take away for myself, when your teammates are hitting shots and being aggressive and attacking close-outs out and making plays, it makes us very, very hard to guard. You want everybody to be assertive and be aggressive and try to make plays. It just makes us a better team.”

That’s exactly why White tries to bring such assertiveness into each matchup.

“Every game, I have the same mindset of trying to be aggressive, just read what the game is telling you, not force anything, and just do what I need to do,” he said. “Tonight, I got a couple of good looks early and then my team did a great job with just finding me and empowering me to stay aggressive, so a lot of credit goes to those guys.”

Discovering that sense of empowerment took some time, but White has all the confidence in the world now to step up in big games such as these. Not only does he have his teammates to thank for that, but also his head coach.

“It starts with Joe (Mazzulla),” White claimed. “Ever since he took over, he's just given me the most confidence … Our relationship is just getting better and better each day. It’s amazing to play for him and I love it.”

You could see that confidence in every area of his game Monday night from the eight threes he knocked down, to the three blocked shots, to the consecutive dunks he threw down midway through the third quarter.

“I’m just having fun out there,” he said. “Competing at the highest level on the biggest stage, that’s what it’s all about.”