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The Boston Celtics were dealt another tough blow on Wednesday as they will be without veteran guard Derrick White for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
White has been ruled out for Game 2 because he’s flying back to Boston for the birth of his first child.
“You don’t want to say it’s a tough situation. We knew he was expecting a baby soon,” Udoka told reporters. “Things happen in life and we always support our guys.”
White played nearly 29 minutes in the Celtics’ 118-107 Game 1 loss to the Heat. While he struggled in that outing, finishing with just three points, four assists and one block, the 27-year-old has been a key rotational piece for Boston this postseason.
Through 12 playoff games, White is averaging 6.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He has mostly played off the bench for the Celtics, though he has started two games in the playoffs, including Game 1 against the Heat.
Losing White certainly isn’t ideal for the Celtics, who could potentially be without both Marcus Smart and Al Horford for Game 2. Smart is listed as probable with a right mid-foot sprain and Horford is listed as questionable, as he’s in health and safety protocols.
Smart, the Defensive Player of the Year, has been one of Boston’s most important players this season. With him sidelined in Game 1, the Celtics were outscored 39-14 in the third quarter as the Heat went on a 22-2 run after halftime.
The 28-year-old has helped the Celtics hold things together this postseason, and it’s hard to imagine the Heat would have gone on that third-quarter run with him in the lineup. In addition to averaging 15 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.1 steals in the playoffs, he has served as the team’s unequivocal leader.
Horford, meanwhile, has looked far from 35 years old this postseason, showing flashes of greatness. Through 11 playoff games, he’s averaging 13 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks.
That said, Robert Williams III and Daniel Theis played well during Horford’s Game 1 absence. Williams finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and one assist, while Theis finished with eight points, four rebounds and two assists.
With White sidelined, both Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith should see more minutes in Game 2. Pritchard has been a solid player off the bench this season, but Nesmith has seen limited minutes.
Game 2 between the Celtics and Heat is set for Thursday at 8: 30 p.m. ET at FTX Arena.