Celtics-76ers takeaways: Derrick White plays the hero for short-handed C’s originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Three Key Storylines
The short-handed Boston Celtics prevailed against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night to earn their fourth consecutive victory.
Without stars Jaylen Brown (illness) and Kristaps Porzingis (knee), the bench unit stepped up to help Boston take a 15-point lead into the second quarter. Boston struggled to get stops over the next 12 minutes, however, and the Sixers took a one-point lead into the half.
The C’s responded with a strong third quarter in which they limited the Sixers to 17 points — tied for the fewest they’ve allowed in any quarter this season. In a hard-fought fourth quarter, Derrick White was the difference-maker as he dropped 12 points in the frame to seal a 117-107 victory at Wells Fargo Center.
White finished with 27 points. Jayson Tatum joined him in taking over in the fourth quarter and notched a game-high 29 points.
All five Sixers starters scored in double figures with Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid (20 points each) leading the way.
Next up for the C’s is a trip to Toronto for an In-Season Tournament showdown with the Raptors on Friday night. First, here are our takeaways from Wednesday’s game.
Big night for the backcourt
Derrick White was due for a big night. The Celtics guard shot just 3-for-12 from the field (1-6 3-PT) with seven points over his last two games against the Raptors and New York Knicks.
He picked a great time to snap out of his slump.
White willed the C’s to victory with a brilliant 12-point fourth quarter. When his team needed a clutch shot, he answered the call.
White was efficient, shooting 7-for-12 from the field including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. He added five assists and a steal in what was an outstanding all-around performance when Boston needed him most.
The Celtics are now 10-3 when White scored 20-plus points. They’re 85-32 in games White has played since joining the team. Sounds like a Top 100 player to us.
Al Horford does it all
Horford hadn’t made much of an impact through the first 10 games of the season, but he rose to the occasion with Brown and Porzingis sidelined.
The veteran big man got the start — his third of the season — and did a little bit of everything for the C’s against his former team. He made his presence felt in the third quarter, helping Boston make up for its sluggish second quarter with three made 3-pointers.
Horford hadn’t made multiple 3s in a game since the regular-season opener. He ended that streak with three 3-pointers in five minutes.
He finished 5-of-9 shooting (4-8 3-PT) for 14 points, but his impact may have been even greater on the defensive end. He kept Joel Embiid in check and tallied five blocks on the night.
This was Horford’s best game of the season thus far. The Celtics will hope the 37-year-old has plenty more of these performances left in the tank.
Bench provides much-needed spark
The second unit was the catalyst in the Celtics’ 37-point first quarter. Dalano Banton, Svi Mykhailiuk and Luke Kornet each got an early chance to shine with Brown and Porzingis out, and they made the most of their opportunity.
The Celtics played a stretch of 4:19 in the 1st quarter without Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, Jayson Tatum, or Derrick White on the court.
They outscored Philly 12-3 during that span.
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) November 16, 2023
Kornet led the bench unit with nine points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field. Mykhailiuk had five points, including a 3-pointer, in his 15 minutes. Banton hit just one of his four shot attempts but gave the Celtics an energy boost in the opening frame. He had five boards and a steal in eight minutes.
After the strong first quarter, the reserves held their own for key stretches while Tatum and the starters took a rest. Overall, it was an encouraging showing from the group and a big reason why the C’s were able to avenge last week’s loss vs. their Eastern Conference rival.