Boston players celebrate winning Game 6 in Miami (From Twitter)
Derek White presents: This is how you instantly go from a little-known actor to a hero who is mentioned in line with Michael Jordan. Nothing prepared the 28-year-old shooting guard for his big moment Saturday night, when he scored a dramatic basket to give Boston a 103-104 victory and tie the Eastern Conference Finals at 3-3.
White may have been a key player in San Antonio in the not-too-distant past, was an integral part of the Celtics' trip to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and was already recognized this season when he was named to the All-Defensive Second Team, but the game-winning basket he scored tonight from an offensive rebound with 0.1 seconds left on the clock will probably be remembered as the greatest moment of his career.
"If you didn't know D-White before, now you definitely do," said Marcus Smart, who missed a three-pointer before White's game-winning rebound. "He's been phenomenal all season, he's playing at a level we thought he could play, and the fact that he's signed a basket like that, it makes me happy."
What a moment. Derek White celebrates (Photo by Getty Images, Megan Briggs)
White started the decisive move as a passer from the outside line, but his activity and alertness helped him score the winning basket despite being one of the shortest players on the court in the offense in question. "He suddenly came like a flash of lightning, out of nowhere, and saved us. He saved our season," Jaylen Brown said.
And although White himself humbled himself by saying that "I was just completely available, getting up and scoring," the importance of this basket cannot be overstated. Just to realize how rare he is, the U.S. has already looked through the numbers and discovered that White is only the second player ever to fall behind to score a game-winning basket at the buzzer of a potentially eliminated playoff game. The last to do so was none other than Michael Jordan, with his famous shot against Cleveland in the 1989 playoffs.
"Oh May Gad, that's my kid!" boasted Richard White, his father, on Twitter, while Jayson Tatum added: "That was awesome. We sketched the drill and they kind of canceled it, the ball was supposed to come to me, but they pressed me so handed it to Marcus. At that point, everything seemed vague to me. It was crazy, totally crazy."
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The task is not yet complete. Tatum and White (Photo: Reuters)
Celtics players made sure to explain in postgame interviews that "there's nothing to celebrate yet," but there was cheers in the locker room and it was hard to hide the euphoria. In Game 7 in two days, they'll try to complete the task and do what no team has ever done before, completing a turnaround from falling behind 3-0 in a playoff series after 150 failed attempts.
"What got us to this point is a combination of all sorts of things: faith, love, cohesion, physicality, hope," coach Joe Mazzulla explains. "It starts in the dressing room. Down 3-0, these guys had to make a choice. They chose to believe in each other, and that's the result."
- Boston Celtics