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Derrick White has quietly become a go-to option in the clutch for C's

Derrick White has quietly become a go-to option in the clutch for C's originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Derrick White's impact in Boston is no longer a secret. Celtics fans and (most of) the NBA community know he's a big part of their success.

But when you think about who takes over down the stretch in Boston, White isn't the first name that comes to mind.

That's reasonable considering the Celtics have a pair of All-NBA alphas in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and two former All-Stars in Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday. On Monday night in Toronto, however, it was White once again stepping up in the clutch.

White scored 10 of the Celtics' 21 points in the fourth quarter, including an incredible corner 3-pointer off a difficult pass from Jayson Tatum with 1:17 remaining that proved to the dagger in Boston's 105-96 win over the Raptors.

White doing most of his damage in the fourth quarter (10 of his 22 total points Monday night) is nothing new: Nearly a third of his total scoring production this season has come in the final frame, as he's averaging 5.2 of his 15.9 points per game in the fourth quarter.

"He’s an All-Star,” teammate Jrue Holiday told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin after Monday's win. “I think the things that he does, lots of times goes unnoticed. The way that he plays, the way that he carries this team — especially with (Jaylen Brown) out tonight.

"He hit a big shot there in the corner. That’s what D-White does.”

White's performance late in games this season has been eye-opening. His 124.0 offensive rating and 13.7 net rating in the fourth quarter both lead the Celtics and rank in the top 10 among all NBA players averaging at least eight fourth-quarter minutes per game. His 52.2 field goal percentage and 43.8 3-point percentage in the fourth quarter both rank third on the C's and in the top 20 among qualified NBA players.

If you narrow that down to "crunch time" (score within five points within the final five minutes), White's numbers get even better: He leads the Celtics with a 56.3 3-point percentage, ranks second with a 66.7 field goal percentage and ranks third in clutch points per game (2.4) behind only Tatum and Porzingis.

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Many of White's big finishes have come with other stars sidelined; he dropped nine fourth-quarter points in a win over the Raptors last month and scored 10 of Boston's 20 points in overtime against the Detroit Pistons to help Boston emerge victorious with Brown out of the lineup.

But even when the Celtics are at full strength, they trust White to make big plays in big moments.

"His confidence and his aggressiveness is super important,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said after Monday's game. “What was the word you used at the beginning? Affirming? I mean, I don’t know if (there's) correlation to like, 'One of the Jays is out, so it’s Derrick’s turn.' I think this year we’ve shown that like regardless of who’s out, there’s an affirmation that everyone is going to step up.”

White should continue to get opportunities to deliver in the clutch as opponents center their attention on Tatum and Brown. The numbers suggest he'll keep delivering.