For the last 36 hours, we’ve been focused on the potential return of Marcus Smart for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and while it looks like the Defensive Player of the Year will be back in the rotation, the Celtics have another absence to deal with now. The team has announced that Derrick White will miss Game 2 against the Miami Heat due to personal reasons.
White’s absence will mean Boston enters the second game of the Eastern Conference Finals in a similar position to Game , missing two core members of their rotation, as Al Horford is listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report as well.
While the reason for White’s absence has yet to be officially revealed, he announced that he and his wife were expecting a baby back in November, so it’s possible that he’s traveling back home for the birth of his first child.
After their 118-107 loss to the Heat on Tuesday, the Celtics will be aiming to tie up the series before heading back to Boston for Games 3 and 4. A second straight loss will place enormous pressure on the team, especially as they will need to win 4 out of the 5 remaining games to advance.
White was acquired by the Celtics at the trade deadline and has been their 6th man and sometimes starter since joining the team. During the regular season, the veteran guard averaged 11 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. However, his shooting has been problematic, with the guard hitting just 30.6% of his threes and 40.9% of his field-goal attempts.
The playoffs have seen White’s shooting hit new lows, especially from three-point land, hitting just 23.7% on 3.2 attempts per game. Yet, against the Milwaukee Bucks, White began to show his true worth. His decisiveness, intelligent cutting, and ability to penetrate off the dribble forced the Bucks’ defense into some sticky situations, allowing the Celtics to get to the rim against a good rim-protecting team.
Given Miami's talent level and robust defense (they rank 2nd in the playoffs for defensive rating), White will be a big loss for a Celtics team that is struggling with health issues at the worst possible time.
The Celtics will face the Heat in Game 2 at 8:30pm ET tonight.