SAN FRANCISCO — When Celtics guard Derrick White caught the ball beyond the arc during the first quarter of Game 1 of these NBA Finals, the Warriors certainly appeared indifferent. They gave him plenty of time and space to fire away, and although he missed his first two tries, he closed the game by hitting 5 of 6.
It has reached the point where opposing defenses should no longer view him as a liability from beyond the arc.
Entering Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Heat, White was just 10 for 48 from the 3-point line in these playoffs. He has been Boston’s top long-range shooter since, connecting on 13 of 22 (59 percent), including 2 of 4 in Sunday’s 107-88 rout by Golden State.
“I was feeling good,” White said. “I just wasn’t making shots for a little bit there, but I just kept staying confident. Everybody stayed confident in me, and started getting some to go down. Just understand that whatever defense throws at me, just be able to read and react and have that confidence.”
White missed Game 2 of the conference finals to be with his wife, Hannah, as she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Hendrix. When he was asked whether this hot streak might have been related to the joy and relief of his baby boy’s arrival, he chuckled and said he wasn’t sure.
“Obviously, it’s great when you’re making shots,” White said. “I knew going into this series they would probably shift off me. So I decided to stay confident and rise up and knock them down when I got the opportunity.”
Rest did Robert Williams wonders
Coach Ime Udoka has stressed that center Robert Williams will likely be day-to-day for the rest of the Finals as he deals with lingering knee pain and swelling related to March 30 surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and a bone bruise he suffered after his return.
Williams appeared hobbled in Boston’s Game 7 win over the Heat, when he missed both of his shots, had just three rebounds, and was limping noticeably. But Boston had three days off after that game, and Williams was considerably more effective in Game 1 against Golden State, when he made all four of his shots and had 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
Udoka said that time off has helped, and that Williams’s workload could gradually be increased as he continues to make progress.
“We spoke about playing every other day for 17 days straight, so this break has been beneficial for him,” Udoka said. “Part of it is keeping him in that 20- to 25-minute range. We kept him pretty much around 20 [in Game 1]. I think that’s beneficial. So if possible, we’d like to keep him there, but if the game dictates, we can obviously play him more and deal with the residual effect later.”