The Boston Celtics’ second game of the season is underway, as they’ve taken the court three days after their convincing 126-117 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers for another tilt with a familiar foe: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and the Miami Heat. The Celtics, of course, put the Heat away in seven games this past postseason after Butler, a 23% three-point shooter last season, missed an ill-advised pull-up three down just two points to cost Miami the series.
This rematch is our first opportunity to see how the newest iterations of these two teams match up against each other, and the fact that the game is only halfway over can’t stop us from firing off some spicy takes. To that end: Derrick White might just be the Celtics’ secret weapon against the Miami Heat.
A newfound member of the Celtics’ downsized starting lineup sans-Robert Williams III, White rocketed out of the gate tonight against Miami. He led the team with 10 points in the first quarter on a pair of three-pointers and a couple trips to the free throw line, paired with his typical defensive excellence on the other end of the floor. He played the first 11 minutes of the contest, delaying prized offseason and newly established sixth man Malcolm Brogdon’s entrance into the contest until the final minute of the first quarter as interim coach Joe Mazzulla rode the hot hand early on.
Watch him victimize Tyler Herro here to set up the fast break!
Here’s the thing about White against this Miami team: they play a lot of guards. Five in the first half tonight, in fact — Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus — and that’s not even factoring in the injured Victor Oladipo, absent from tonight’s game. Few teams have the ability to stress a team’s guard depth quite like the Heat, with their hot-shooting backcourt rotation.
We already saw White’s value in this circumstance in last year’s postseason; he may not have scored well for much of the Eastern Conference Finals, but his versatility and tenacity on the defensive end of the court helped negative one of Miami’s greatest advantages in terms of roster construction. He may be the third guard on this roster by default, but as he’s already shown tonight, he has starter talent, and that’s a luxury that will pay dividends in this crucial Eastern Conference matchup.
While we wait out the break: what are your hot takes about the first half of Celtics-Heat? Sound off in the comments with what’s stood out to you thus far.