3 most important Celtics players not named Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown for deciding Game 7 vs. Heat

Since the early stages of this year’s Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, history has constantly been on the cusp of being made.

From the once very real possibility of things ending in a sweep which, conjoined with the Lakers’ four-game exit against the Nuggets, would have made it the first time in which both conference finals finished in such a fashion, to Miami’s potential to become just the second eighth seed to reach the NBA Finals, round three of the 2023 NBA Playoffs has been adrenaline filled from the jump.

Now, things find themselves reaching an even higher level of excitement, as Boston has gone on to work their way back from an 0-3 hole to force Monday’s Game 7, and, should they win, they’d become the first team in NBA history to accomplish such a remarkable feat.

Now, though heading into the contest the Celtics find themselves viewed as favorites to punch their ticket to the championship round and square off against Denver, many things still have to go their way and many players need to step up in this winner-take-all elimination game.

While the usual suspects of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are expected to put their best foot forward and produce as the All-NBA stars that they are, in order for the Celtics to pull out what would be a storied victory in Game 7, Joe Mazzulla is going to need three contributors, in particular, to step up big for the club.

Boston Celtics player No. 3) Al Horford

Al Horford may no longer be the All-Star and All-NBA selectee that he once was during his prime, but his leadership has seemingly never been more impactful for his respective clubs than it has been since returning to the Celtics last season. This has only continued to shine through amid adversity during this year’s playoff run.

Even with his admittedly regressed on-court efficiency and counting-stat production, from his energy and hustle on the floor to holding his teammates accountable on the sidelines, the 36-year-old’s sheer presence on this roster has been captivating, and they’ll need his guidance and influence to keep the C’s sights set on their goals and to not have their focus shift.

Deemed by Jayson Tatum as being someone who “is so important to what we are trying to accomplish as a team,” be it in the form of knocking down key jumpers, providing crucial defensive contributions, or serving as a vocal leader, in Monday’s affair, Al Horford will be needed in one way or another for Boston to have a chance at advancing.

Boston Celtics player No. 2) Marcus Smart

Throughout his nine-year tenure with the Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart has managed to establish himself as the most polarizing figure in recent franchise history. To some fans, he’s a beloved and cherished member of the organization. To others, he’s an inconsistent headache whose bark is bigger than his bite.

However, regardless of how one views the defensive-minded veteran, in Game 7 Smart will prove to be a vital part of the affair’s ultimate outcome.

Playing the game’s most important position, the 29-year-old holds the keys to Boston’s offense as their starting point guard. In such a role, his impact while leading the charge throughout this year’s playoff run has been evident, both from a positive and negative perspective.

In this series alone, the difference in his efficiency and productivity in wins and losses has been eye-opening.

During the first few games that saw the Celtics fall 0-3, Marcus Smart was sporting highly underwhelming averages of 9.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 35.0% from the floor and 30.0% from deep while sporting a plus-minus rating of -24.

However, over their last three outings where they’ve managed to stave off elimination and, in turn, ended up evening the series at 3-3, he’s been incredibly efficient, as he’s dropped averages of 18.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.3 steals while shooting 47.4% from the field and 42.3% from deep and registered a plus-minus of +25.

During their Game 5 showing when they last played on their home floor, right from the jump Smart was seemingly on a mission to help guide his team to a win, as he collected the first of his five steals on the opening tip that led to a Jayson Tatum fastbreak score and, in turn, set the tone early in favor of the Celtics.

With history on the line, expect the club’s floor general to yet again come storming right out of the gates.

Boston Celtics player No. 1) Derrick White

As was the case last season following his trade-deadline arrival in Beantown, Derrick White has once again proven to be a pivotal member of the main rotation for the Celtics. Outside of his heroics in Boston’s magical Game 6 triumph, the veteran has been willing to do just about anything throughout this year’s postseason in an effort to help his team win.

Now, with Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon’s continued health issues, White will be needed to pick up the backcourt slack on both ends of the floor in a major way.

In wins during the postseason, the veteran guard has easily been one of the club’s main contributors, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, as he’s sporting impressive averages of 15.1 points on 52.3% shooting from the field and 48.5% shooting from distance.

In games where he’s posting 15 or more points, the Celtics are 6-1. In Games where he’s dropped 12 or fewer points, the team has gone just 4-7.

Now, with Brogdon still hobbled and, thus, lacking any real offensive difference-making abilities, the Celtics are going to need yet another high-scoring affair from the likes of Derrick White to have their best chance of advancing to their second straight NBA Finals.

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‘Tore my guts out’: Celtics fans will love Skip Bayless down bad after Derrick White Game 6 winner

Sports media personality Skip Bayless is a man of many words and long rants, yet after Boston Celtics guard Derrick White hit a buzzer-beater, he only had one word to share on Twitter.

White’s game-winner set social media on fire, as his last-second putback saved Boston’s season and capped off an insane 104-103 Game 6 victory. The Eastern Conference Finals are now tied up at three games a piece, which is surprising when you remember that the Miami Heat were once up 3-0. No one was madder about the loss than Miami fans, however, Bayless wasn’t far behind in his rage and despair:

Bayless’ prediction almost came true, as the Celtics blew a late double-digit lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. But instead of falling apart, the Green Team came to play on the last possession and were rewarded for their efforts.

The former San Antonio Spur was celebrated for his heroics on Twitter, which should add some extra salt to Bayless’ wound since he is a known Spurs fan. Apparently, White was one of his favorite players as well prior to his trade to Boston:

The shock from White’s clutch bucket might still be lingering, but there’s still more important basketball to be played. For the second year in a row, the Celtics and Heat will match up for a Conference Finals Game 7. No NBA team has ever gone on to win a best-of-seven series after going down 3-0, so history and the season are on the line for the Celtics on Monday night.

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Why Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla’s failed challenge on Jimmy Butler shot was Game 6 blessing in disguise

The luck of the Irish is guiding this Boston Celtics run. First, they dig themselves out of a 3-2 deficit to eliminate the Philadelphia 76ers. Then, they get a miraculous shot from Derrick White to tie the Miami Heat series. However, the players are not the only ones to experience these miracles. Coach Joe Mazzulla’s failed challenge for the Al Horford foul against Jimmy Butler may also be a blessing in disguise.

Mazzulla initially challenged the foul called against Butler to potentially overturn the call, a desperation move given that might be what kills Boston.

Some felt as though the challenge ended up with the shot being reviewed as a three-shot foul instead of the initial two free throws. But Al Horford’s foul on Jimmy Butler would wind up being a three-point shot anyway given that the exact scenario would call for an automatic review. With the challenge happening, officials had to check the time left on the clock. Eventually, it saved the Celtics 0.9 seconds to execute their game-winning play.

The saved milliseconds were a huge help to the Celtics. Derrick White tipped the ball in with only 0.1 seconds to go in the game. Through this, the Celtics forced Game 7 back home at TD Garden.

However, luck should not be the only basis to look a this Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics’ run. A lot of their wins still come from the effort each player gives. The Celtics have a talented set of guys that have been pouring their hearts out on the floor ever since the playoffs started.

Jayson Tatum leads all players in the playoffs with 757 minutes played is a testament to this. His 529 points also make him lead the NBA Playoffs in points scored. Robert Williams also leads the post-season with a 143.7 offensive rating. Stellar performances from Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and the rest prove why this team deserves another shot at Banner 18 against the Heat.

This team may have the luck, but they show out with the effort to back it up.

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‘Ultimate Alfred’: JJ Redick drops epic Batman reference in Derrick White praise

The Boston Celtics’ pursuit to be the only team to come back from a three-nothing deficit is alive. The person that kept them alive to even have a chance is none other than Derrick White. As the clock was winding down, Derrick White’s shot shook the basketball world with his miraculous tip-in to win over the Miami Heat. Prior to all of that happening, JJ Redick already knew that White would be up for these types of challenges.

JJ Redick praised Derrick White for his season-long performances with the Celtics. In his podcast, Old Man and The Three, Redick vividly compared him to Alfred Pennyworth from the Batman movie franchise.

“To me, Derrick White is the ultimate Alfred. Any matchup. Any series. He is going to figure out a way to make an impact and help the stars,” Redick said as he praised White for his contributions to the Boston Celtics.

A lot of what Redick said held water throughout this Heat series. Derrick White is a solid performer for the Celtics. He’s seen the floor over 31 minutes in this Heat matchup. In the last five games alone, White totaled 14.2 points per game on a very efficient 52.2% from the floor. He has also shot from beyond the arc on a 54.5%  clip.

Defensively, White continues to prove why he is an NBA All-Defensive second-team selection. He racked up 1.2 steals per game in their last five outings. His rim protection has also been elite for a guard. Derrick White totaled 1.8 blocks per game since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston has their Batman in Grant Williams. Now, they have Alfred in Derrick White.

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How Celtics got to brink of NBA history with miraculous comeback vs. Heat

Marcus Smart warned us. Jaylen Brown did, too. Somehow, some way, the Boston Celtics’ green heart is still beating—and they needed every tenth of a second to stay alive. With their miraculous 104-103 victory over the Miami Heat, the Celtics finds themselves on the brink of NBA history by becoming the first team ever to complete the most impossible of comebacks and overcome a 0-3 series deficit in the NBA Playoffs.

Derrick White was the man of the moment for Celtics Nation after his heroic tip-in salvaged Boston’s season to force a Game 7 at TD Garden on Monday. White’s game-winner left the entirety of Kaseya Center in utter shock, as they saw the Heat’s 3-0 Eastern Conference Finals series lead vanish into thin air.

So, how did Jayson Tatum and the Celtics, in fact, get it done? How did they get to the precipice of NBA history with their miraculous comeback versus the Heat? Let’s take a look.

Game 4

For all intents and purposes, the Celtics looked absolutely dead in the water after that 26-point beatdown the Heat gave them in Game 3. Miami looked ready to finally put the nail in the coffin when they went up 56-50 at the half of Game 4.

And then, Boston found life in the third quarter. They outscored Miami 38-23, went 14-of-23 from the field and connected on seven of their 12 three-point attempts in that period.

More importantly, Tatum made his presence felt. The Celtics superstar rediscovered exactly who he claimed to be: humbly, one of the best basketball players in the world.

Tatum dropped 14 points in that period, going 6-of-8 from the field and draining two triples. He finally found the rhythm he had been longing for throughout the series, especially since he just came off a horrible 14-point dud in Game 3, when he shot just 6-of-18 from the field and 1-of-7 from deep.

That momentum carried into the fourth, where Tatum scored 11 points to close the deal and keep the Celtics alive. He finished with 34 points in Game 4, with 25 coming in the second half.

Game 5

Going back to a raucous TD Garden crowd, Boston proceeded to steamroll the Heat en route to a 110-97 win. There’s no other way to describe this than a good old classic Beantown Beatdown.

The final score wasn’t really indicative of how Boston dominated the game. Four Celtics players scored at least 20 points, led by Derrick White’s 24 points and Marcus Smart’s 23 points. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both tallied 21 points, with the former putting together an all-around game with eight rebounds and 11 assists.

As a team, the Celtics finally found their rhythm. They went 16-of-39 from beyond the arc, with White and Smart combining for 10 triples. More importantly, the No. 2 rated defense that dominated the regular season was back. They were in Miami’s passing lanes throughout the night, tallying 13 steals and forcing Miami to 16 turnovers.

That leads us to Game 6…

Game 6

Honestly, this has to be up there in shortlist of craziest NBA Playoff games of all time.

The Celtics were actually in control of this game throughout and looked well on their way to Game 7 with a comfortable victory. They led by six points at halftime and entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead. They essentially had Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in jail, holding them to just 5-of-28 shooting after three quarters.

Then, Boston almost blew it—several times, even.

They left Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson wide open twice within the last two minutes. They were certainly fortunate that those shots did not go down, or else we would probably be talking about a Denver Nuggets-Miami Heat NBA Finals right now.

Still, holding a precarious two-point lead with 16.2 seconds left, Boston’s season was hanging by the thinnest of threads. Then Al Horford fouled Jimmy Butler on a three-point shot attempt to put the Heat superstar on the foul line for three shots.

Despite struggling with his shot throughout the game, Butler came alive in the fourth quarter, leading his team’s charge with 15 points. Butler made all three free throws to give the Heat the lead with one game-sealing stop separating them from the NBA Finals. The Celtics were essentially on life support, three seconds away from flying back to Boston, not to play a Game 7, but to book at trip to Cancun.

With one final hurrah, Marcus Smart sprung free for a tough three on the left wing. The shot went in, and then out. In that moment, time stopped for just split second. And that split second was all they needed. Derrick White flew in to bank in the tip-in. The officials reviewed it. The Celtics were miraculously still alive.

More alive than ever and gearing up for another potential doozy in Game 7 in Boston.

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Celtics’ X-factor vs. Heat in Eastern Conference Finals Game 7, and it’s not Jaylen Brown

The Boston Celtics have crawled all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit to force Game 7 against the Miami Heat in the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals. In order to complete the greatest comeback in the history of the NBA Playoffs, the Celtics will need a few players to show up in a big way.

It’s no secret that the Celtics will be relying on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown more than anyone against the Heat in Game 7. Tatum is Boston’s best player and No. 1 scorer. Brown is the Celtics’ second-best player and an All-NBA Second-Team selection. But who could be the Celtics’ X-factor that helps Boston eliminate Miami and reach the 2023 NBA Finals?

Derrick White is the Celtics’ X-factor in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. For much of the regular season and the 2023 NBA Playoffs, White has helped turn Boston into a truly great team. All of the league’s top teams have a pair of All-Star-caliber players. White’s all-around game often makes him much more than a role player, oftentimes the difference between a Celtics’ win and a loss.

Game 6 was the perfect encapsulation of just how valuable White can be to Boston. On paper, White’s stat line of 11 points, four rebounds and six assists is nothing special. However, his impact on the Celtics beating the Heat in a must-win game went far beyond those numbers.

Of course, there’s White’s game-winning buzzer-beater that defeated the Heat and kept Boston’s championship hopes alive. But White was only able to make that layup because he put himself in a position to do so. White crashed the boards when Marcus Smart put up his jump shot with three seconds left. White grabbed the rebound and put the ball back up just in time.

Defensively is where White had his most value in Game 6. The Celtics guard was a shutdown defender in the biggest game of the season. Miami players went 1-of-12 from the field when White contested their shots, according to ESPN. When White was the primary defender on Jimmy Butler, the Heat star missed all six of his field-goal attempts. White had three blocks in Game 6.

It was a stark contrast from earlier in the series. As the Heat took a commanding 3-0 series lead, Butler had his way with White when finding him on switches.

Butler continued to look like the best player in the Eastern Conference from Games 1-3. Butler was not the same dominant player in Games 4-6. Ultimately, it’s the biggest reason why the Heat are on the verge of a historic collapse.

White plays a key role in the way that the Celtics defend Butler. If Boston’s All-Defensive Second Team selection continues to limit Butler in Game 7, Miami’s season will probably come to an end.

In the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, White averaged 10.3 points per game. In three straight wins, White is scoring 17.0 points per game. White leads all players in the series with 21 made 3-pointers. He’s hit at least three 3-pointers in each contest.

Boston has a 120.2 offensive rating when White is on the floor. The Celtics’ defensive rating is 110.9 with White in the lineup.

White’s 2023 playoff run started with a bang. He scored 24 points in Game 1 of the first round against the Atlanta Hawks. In Game 2, White had 26 points and seven rebounds. The Celtics won both games without breaking a sweat.

If White has a big Game 7, it likely means that the Celtics are headed to the NBA Finals.

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Celtics: Derrick White’s miraculous game-winner sends Boston fans into frenzy in streets

Derrick White‘s last-second, put-back layup saved the Boston Celtics‘ season.

He crashed the offensive glass and found an opening to tip in a missed 3-pointer from Marcus Smart, giving Boston a 104-103 win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.

The Celtics are one win away from becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit and win it.

After White’s shot, fans went crazy in Boston. This video from Rob Way in Boston shows Celtics supporters dancing and climbing street poles.

It is great time to be a fan of the team.

Boston appeared to be dead in this series when it lost the first two games at home and had a blowout Game 3 loss on the road.

However, the Celtics have found a way to assert themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Forward Jayson Tatum has played very well, averaging 28.3 points on 50 percent shooting in the last three games. Tatum had 31 points to lead Boston to a Game 6 Saturday night.

Boston’s Game 6 win also made legend Paul Pierce excited.

The Celtics will play Game 7 of this series on their home floor Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET. If they win, they will advance to their second straight NBA Finals to face the Denver Nuggets, who won the Western Conference.

Boston is seeking its 18th NBA championship, which would be the most of any NBA team. It is tied with the Lakers at 17 championships.

Can the Celtics complete the comeback? If they do, Boston could celebrate even more.

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Derrick White walks through his game-winning miracle in Game 6 vs. Heat

Derrick White saved the Boston Celtics’ season with his buzzer-beater against the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. With the Celtics trailing by a point and facing elimination, White rebounded Marcus Smart’s miss and scored the game-winning layup just as time expired, giving Boston a 104-103 Game 6 victory.

It was an incredible play by Derrick White, who inbounded the ball to Smart with three seconds left in regulation. The Celtics’ guard ran to the corner after initiating the pass, then crashed the boards when Smart’s shot went up. With no Heat player boxing out White, the veteran grabbed the rebound and laid it up off the glass, just in time.

“There really was nobody on me,” White told reporters after Game 6. “So I just spaced to the corner, and then when he shot it just tried to crash. The ball came to me, I made the shot.”

The ball left White’s had with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. There was confusion initially as to whether the shot should’ve counted. The announcers on TNT seemed to think that the shot would be waived off and the Heat would win Game 6 and the series. Instead, the basket was quickly ruled good, and White became the Game 6 hero for the Celtics.

“I just was crashing the glass and it came right to me,” White said. “It’s gonna be a little crazy, my phone’s already blowing up.”

White did much more than just score the game-winning putback to help the Celtics beat the Heat in Game 6. In addition to recording 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, White played excellent defense. Jimmy Butler missed all six of his field-goal attempts when he was being guarded by White as the primary defender, according to ESPN.

White leads all players in the series with 21 made 3-pointers.

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‘That s**t was crazy’: Jayson Tatum spills on raw emotions after Celtics’ insane Game 6 win

For a brief moment, Celtics-Heat Game 6 was completely up in the air. The final buzzer sounded just as Derrick White tipped in a go-ahead putback that would have made Schrödinger proud.

The shot looked late enough to the naked eye for Celtics fans to think their season might have been over. But without confirmation that it was going to be waved off just yet, Heat fans were left wondering if they had just made the NBA Finals or were headed to Boston for Game 7.

You can tell from the reactions from both the Heat and Celtics benches that neither side definitively believed the basket was good. A few guys in green were hopeful, but none were certain until the replay showed Derrick White’s shot out of his hands before the red flashed on the backboard. Not even Jayson Tatum was sure, and he had one of the best views in the entire arena.

“That was incredible,” Jayson Tatum said, speaking to reporters still wearing some shock on his sleeve.

“D-White tipped it in. That felt like the longest 10 seconds ever waiting for confirmation if he made it or not. I’m still in disbelief. That s–t crazy. But I’m glad we got another chance, another opportunity,” the Celtics star continued.

The Celtics now have an excellent chance at history. The first four teams that forced a Game 7 with a chance to complete a comeback down 0-3 all lost. But Jayson Tatum and co. will be the first ones to host the series-deciding spectacle.

“I’ve never been so excited to go back to Boston in my life,” Tatum said.

With a shot at history and a return to the NBA Finals on the line after the Celtics were dead in the water just a few days ago, what’s not to like?

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Derrick White’s dad sent 4-word tweet after his son became Celtics’ Game 6 hero

Boston Celtics guard Derrick White has the entire NBA world in a frenzy after his game-winning buzzer beater to force a Game 7 against the Miami Heat, and his dad loves it.

With 3.0 seconds left on the clock, the 28-year old inbounds it to Marcus Smart, who immediately chucks a three. It misses, but White sprints to the basket, and the ball hangs enough in time for him to grab it, and tip it back in before the buzzer sounds. After a quick review, the basket counts, and the team immediately celebrates, leaving the entire Kaseya Center stunned.

His dad, Richard White, was at home watching the whole thing, and when he saw the play that made his son the hero, he simply tweeted out: “Omg that’s my boy”.

He also tweeted, “7 because of 9.”

Truly, the Boston Celtics go on to live another day. As Bill Simmons said, this game winner could go on as the second craziest game winner in Celtics history, just below Larry Bird’s steal in 1987 against the Detroit Pistons that leads to a Dennis Johnson layup. That is, if the Celtics win Game 7 and complete the 3-0 comeback.

The Miami Heat, however, will most certainly be ready to stop this. As it stands, no team has ever lost a playoff series in NBA history after taking a 3-0 lead. But history may change come Monday night, and the entire world will be watching.

For now, Celtics fans can only take a breather, celebrate this fabulous Derrick White game winner, and follow his dad’s final message:

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