Derrick White gets MVP chants in win over Knicks
Derrick White knows he’s not an MVP candidate, but on a night when the Celtics needed to fend off a hot-shooting Knicks team, you can’t blame the Boston faithful for chanting his name like he was one.
New York had whittled down an 8-point first quarter lead and briefly went on top midway through the second, but then DWhite happened. Over the course of the next twelve minutes spanning halftime, White would lead all scorers with 14 points to turn a 4-point deficit into a 20-point lead.
An electric stretch in the third quarter included three consecutive made threes, a handful of assists, two blocks, and a dunk pushed the Knicks on the brink. Timely clutch play at the end of the game and a trip to the free throw line to close them out gave the TD Garden crowd a chance to shower White with deserved praise.
“We’ve got the best fans in the league so, I’m always thankful and grateful for them,” White said after scoring 30 points and hitting 6-of-10 from behind the arc. “I know I’m not the MVP, but it’s always cool to hear.”
In a disastrous game in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals, White turned the ball over five times (more than he had in three previous games combined) and made just two of his nine three-pointers against the Pacers.
“Obviously, you think about it. We got all this time off which is rare in the NBA,” White said of the scheduling quirk of the IST and a chance to finally redeem himself on Friday. “After a couple of days, I moved on, just trying to not have two bad games in a row. I played a lot better today.”
Even with the talent upgrade around him, White’s numbers are up across the board and he leads the team in plus/minus (+10.2). Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau called White “one of the most underrated players in the league,” but his value isn’t lost on his teammates.
“Where it really shows — he already puts up great stats, his numbers are really good — but if you don’t watch the game, you don’t see all those steals, something like where he recovers on defense when it’s already super late and somehow, he gets a steal,” Porzingis said. “It’s those small plays that can really change a game, really change the momentum. He’s really good at that.”
In an interview with CelticsBlog’s Noa Dalzell, his father, Richard White, discussed where his son’s motivation comes from and how it all starts before the season even starts.
“At the beginning of the year, I tell Derrick, ‘Here are your goals, based on how much playing time you get and where you were last year. You should try to be better from last year to this year,’” Richard said. “We have kind of a thing where we want to meet those goals — it’s enough of a challenge where if you do meet that goal, it’s going to really contribute to the success of the team.”
Maybe an MVP trophy should be on the to-do list next offseason.