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Mazzulla calls Derrick White ‘a genius player' for smart play in C's win

Mazzulla calls Derrick White ‘a genius player' for smart play in C's win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics topped the Indiana Pacers 129-124 on Tuesday night, giving Boston a 3-2 regular-season series win over its Eastern Conference foe.

In a game that started heavily in Boston's favor, with a 15-point lead into the halftime break, the Pacers came out hot in the third quarter and went on a 37-25 run, leading to a back-and-forth fourth quarter. While it was once again a night to remember for Jayson Tatum offensively, scoring 30 points on 12-19 shooting, it was Derrick White's high-IQ defense that was praised by head coach Joe Mazzulla after the game.

"He's a genius player," Mazzulla said of White. "He's a genius player. We've missed our foul to give call the last three times we've tried to use it, and credit to him for recognizing that and taking advantage of that."

With less than a minute left in a one-possession game, the Pacers had the ball in transition going up-court against a Celtics defense that wasn't set. White recognized this and fouled the Pacers' ball-handler, knowing Boston still had a foul to give. White then made another game-changing play by blocking Aaron Nesmith's shot with just 31 seconds left in the game. The Pacers would fail to get another successful shot off, leading to a turnover via a 24-second violation.

On top of his clutch block and steal, White was red-hot offensively with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting and 4-of-7 from deep with five assists and two rebounds. White's consistent showing of team-first basketball has been more than enough for his name to be in contention for a 2024 All-Star reserve spot.

The Celtics will have the luxury of staying at home for the next few days with their next game against the Los Angeles Lakers being hosted at the TD Garden on Thursday night.