The Boston Celtics pushed their win streak to nine games on Friday night, taking down the New Orleans Pelicans in a 117-109 victory. Jaylen Brown led the team in scoring with 27 points, but Jayson Tatum struggled a bit, shooting just 6-of-19 from the field.
While he made up for his subpar efficiency with a 10-assist night, someone needed to step up in the scoring column. That someone was Derrick White. The veteran guard poured in 26 points, his second-highest scoring total of the season.
Boston ran into some turnover problems in the second half, but White was able to help settle things down in the third quarter. He said that it was just a matter of riding the “ebbs and flows of the game.”
“Just the ebbs and flows of the game. Sometimes it gets a little frantic, sometimes I was a reason it was a little frantic with some dumb turnovers in transition. But just trying to ride the wave of the game. Try to understand what we need. And sometimes it happens like that.”
Over the last three games, the Celtics have been dealing with injuries to Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon. In turn, a larger load has been placed on the back of White, and he’s delivered in a big way. He’s averaged 19.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists over that three-game stretch.
Not only that, but he’s shot the ball at an impressive clip, shooting 20-of-32 from the field (62.5%) and 10-of-16 (62.5%) from distance. Those numbers aren’t a recent thing, either, as he’s shot the ball extremely well all season long.
White said that he’s been focused on his three-point shot this season.
“Get good balance and trust the shot. And put up a good shot every time down, or every time I shoot it. So, that’s what we talked about in the off days when I’d watched the shots. Just try to get a good shot each and every time I take it.”
So far this season, White is averaging 10.4 points on 47.1% shooting from the field and 45.2% shooting from behind the arc. Outside of his rookie season, where he only attempted 13 total threes, that three-point percentage would mark a career-high.
When White joined the team at the trade deadline last year, he was struggling from distance, and that trend continued throughout the end of the regular season. He ended last year shooting 31.2% from deep on the year and 30.6% with the Celtics.
However, he worked with Celtics assistant Ben Sullivan on his jump shot this summer, as reported by Bobby Manning. After his big-time game vs. the Pelicans, he said that, while the tweaks were minor, they helped keep his jumper more consistent.
“Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t like a major tweak, but just being consistent with my shot and everything like that. So, I mean, it’s a constant process and just trying to work everyday, and when it’s game time, just let it fly.”
As the Celtics continue to battle injuries to their guard rotation, White’s high-level play will become increasingly more important. And once Smart returns to the lineup, having him come off the bench will be one of the greatest luxuries across the NBA.