BOSTON -- Even before he knew that he'd be starting Monday night's must-win Game 4, Derrick White vowed to be more aggressive for the Boston Celtics. The point guard was true to his word, providing the Celtics with a huge spark in their 102-82 win over the Miami Heat.
When news broke late that Marcus Smart would have to sit out the contest with a bad ankle, White was thrust into his second start to the series. And the new dad was as aggressive as he promised Monday morning,
"I said it this morning, if I was going to fail I was going to do it aggressively. I wanted to get back to how I play," he said after the win. "I got off to a good start and just tried to keep it going for 48 minutes."
White got the Celtics going in Game 4, scoring the first seven points of the contest. He started the game by snagging a Bam Adebayo turnover and turning it into a driving four-foot runner. On the next trip down the floor, White drained a three. He scored another transition layup off a Miami miss, and the Celtics led by a touchdown less than two minutes into the game. Boston never looked back.
"I felt his energy at the beginning of the game, it set the tone for a lot of us," Boston center Rob Williams said after the win. "He took that challenge."
White had scored just three points in his previous two games of the series, going just 1-for-6 from the floor. (He missed Game 2 for the birth of his first child, Hendrix.) He missed both of his shot attempts in Saturday night's Game 3 loss, so he was eager to get it going early in Game 4, especially with Boston down a playmaker like Smart.
Since being acquired by Boston at the deadline, White has struggled to put the ball in the basket. This postseason, he's hitting just 34 percent from the floor and 24 percent from downtown. But throughout all of his struggles, the Celtics keep telling him to be himself.
Williams has said it any chances he gets. Smart urged White to go out and be aggressive before Game 4.
"That makes it easier," White said of all that cheerleading by his teammates.
"We wanted him to be confident and aggressive, and he picked his spots early on," head coach Ime Udoka said of White's early contributions in Game 4. "We told him to look for his shot, but he facilitates and gets downhill really well. He got the right looks, took the shots that were there and then found the right guys. We want him to be aggressive at all times."
White finished with 10 points in the first quarter as the Celtics raced to a 29-11 lead. He scored 13 points for the night off 4-for-14 shooting, but continued to be aggressive even after his shot stopped falling. White also had eight rebounds, six assists and three steals in the Boston win.
If you want, call it confidence from all of that urging from his teammates. But most are guessing it's a newfound energy that White is feeling from becoming a parent for the first time. Nothing beats Dadrenaline, after all.
White will maybe get some sleep after his Game 4 performance. But chances are he'll spend most of his time catching up with his four-day old son.
"He's a super blessing to myself and my family. I can't wait to get home and see him, just hold him," White said after the game. "It's cool to just watch him and I can't wait to see how he grows."
Take some dad time, Derrick. You earned it after a solid Game 4.
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