White Looks to Build On Strong Game 3 Performance

Derrick White came alive for the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Saturday afternoon, producing his best effort of the postseason. The veteran guard tallied 14 points to lead all bench scorers in Milwaukee, where he knocked down 3-of-6 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line in 21 minutes of action.

Although his Celtics dropped a nail-biting, 103-101 defeat, it was a good step for White to snap out of his offensive funk, especially after going scoreless in Game 2. Plus, the C’s needed such an effort out of him, considering how much Milwaukee’s defense was loading up on Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum throughout the game.

“There were openings, and he took advantage of those,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka reflected of White’s Game 3 performance following practice Sunday afternoon. “They are not leaving Jayson and Jaylen's bodies. It presents opportunities to get downhill and get to the basket which he did and got to the free-throw line. They are going to crowd the paint and those open shots are going to be there.”

White was aggressive in getting downhill, which helped him earn eight trips to the free-throw line, tying his season-high with the Celtics. It was also the second game of the series in which he knocked down multiple 3-pointers after posting an identical 2-for-3 clip in a 10-point Game 1 effort.

Aside from those two games, White had been struggling with his shot throughout the playoffs. However, he’s still been able to make an impact with his playmaking and defense throughout the first two rounds. Even in his scoreless Game 2, he still posted the highest plus/minus rating in the game with a plus-22 because of his influence as a passer and as a defender.

“He’s one of our main penetrate-and-kick guys, plays with great pace in the halfcourt and in transition, gets downhill and gets other guys shots,” said Udoka. “So whether he gets the assist or the hockey assist, I think him kind of getting the ball moving and then, defensively, having that versatility to not lose a ton when Marcus goes out, as far as size and the way we want to guard, coverage-wise. All the little things that sometimes don't show up, but we know are valuable to us he does.”

White is looking to carry all of that, plus his shooting momentum from Saturday afternoon into Monday night's pivotal Game 4.

“It’s definitely a big game, so you’re gonna have to have urgency,” White said. “You don’t want to go back home 3-1, we gotta get prepared, execute the game plan, and try to get this big win on the road.”

In this particular road arena, White has excelled of late. The two most recent games in which he scored in the teens both occurred at Fiserv Forum – his 14-point effort Saturday afternoon, and his 19-point effort exactly one month prior on April 7.

In the three games he’s played at Fiserv this season, White has averaged 16.7 points while shooting 47.4 percent from 3-point range. The only other road arena in which he averaged more points (minimum two games played) was Crypto.com Arena, where he averaged 16.8 points against the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.

Out of the six games he’s played in total against the Bucks this season, White has reached double-digits in scoring in all but one: his goose-egg Game 2 outlier. This is a team that he can obviously get going against, and if his shooting can remain on par with his playmaking and defensive impact, then his importance should be magnified as the series continues.

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