Derrick White makes his mark for Celtics

As the basketball parted ways with his fingertips, Derrick White was the only person in the arena sure that the Celtics would play Monday night at the Garden.

Well, make that pretty sure. The guy who made the inbounds pass to Marcus Smart with three seconds left, then bolted to the basket in case the ball bounced off the rim, apparently had a sliver of doubt. White said that when asked by his teammates if the Celtics had the win, his stock response was, “Yeah, I think so.”

The officiating crew, who flirted with incompetence more than a few times in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, confirmed White’s call. The clock read 0.1 as White took a giant step into Celtics’ lore.

If the clock measured seconds in hundredths, it may have read 0.01.

The Celtics rejoiced, the Miami crowd’s jaws collectively dropped, and the Heat players wore a visage vaguely reminiscent of Richard Sherman’s as Malcom Butler stole Super Bowl 49 from the Seahawks.

Which is not to put White’s buzzer beater on the same pedestal as Butler’s pick. The Patriots secured a championship thanks to Butler’s thievery. White simply offered the Celtics a lifeline into Game 7. And, if they win Monday night at the Garden, an opportunity to slap down Denver in the NBA Finals.

Still, as game savings go, they don’t get much better than White’s.

He saved the Celtics from themselves. For whatever cloudy reasons, the Celtics have trouble putting games away at the time of year when putting games away is a team’s prime priority.

With four minutes left and a 10-point lead, the Celtics shot as if the hoop were a moving target. Jump shots, drop-ins from the paint or simply layups, went awry.

Jimmy Butler, the only Miami player with a firm grip on NBA stardom, lugged his team through the closing stages. When Al Horford fouled Butler on a 3-point attempt with 2.1 seconds showing on the clock, made his three free throws as if he were in his driveway killing idle time. Miami had a one-point lead.

Celtics fans had some serious angst.

No one paid much attention when Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla challenged the ruling that Butler had attempted a 3 instead of a 2. That challenge was denied.

But in making that call, the officials rolled back the time remaining to 3 seconds.

Rarely has a fraction of a second proved more valuable.

So, Game 7 is set for Monday night, and the Garden’s roof might blow off upon White’s pregame introduction.

He didn’t nail down a championship, but White restored a pulse to Boston’s season. And that could prove truly historic.

For confirmation, listen to “Havlicek Stole the Ball.”

You May Have Missed…

Welcome back, Kyrie

Celtics sweep their way into NBA Finals Sweeps are the pedestals on which great teams reside. Sending stunned foes home for the summer by dismissing them in four games is what separates awe-inspiring NBA teams ...

Make that 3-0

Celtics slap down Pacers - and doubters All those Hoosiers, resplendent in their yellow t-shirts and giddy with hope, must have been wholly stunned when their Little Team that Might ultimately couldn’t. The ghosts of ...

Fresh Content Direct to Your Inbox