Mendoza: Miami battles history vs. Boston


We have a deciding Game 7 today (Tuesday, May 30, 2023 PH time) because of Derrick White, period.

It was White’s stunning tip-in at the buzzer that gave Boston a 104-103 win over Miami on Sunday, May 28, forcing a 3-3 deadlock in their best-of-seven series.

It was another case of White essaying the saying: “Being at the right place at the right time.”

After Jimmy Butler buried three straight free throws in pressure-cooker conditions to give Miami a 103-102 lead with 2.1 seconds left (the referees reset it to three seconds on the next play), Boston coach Joe Mazzulla called time out.

Mazzulla fingered White to inbound.

White passed to Marcus Smart, who flung a desperation shot against a swarm of defenders at left quarter court.

The ball rattled both sides of the rim but, in a freak twist, it popped out.

If you construe the next scene as God’s creation — as in the parting of the Red Sea — go on: Did not the ball miraculously fall into the hands of White?

And, as if on cue, White, all by his lonesome underneath at left, tipped it in with 0.1 seconds remaining — the winning shot going in as time expired.

“It doesn’t do any good to stand in the corner whether Smart makes it or not,” White said. “So, I was just crashing the glass and it came right to me.”

It took some time before the refs would rule that White’s shot was good.

“It felt like the longest 10 seconds ever waiting for confirmation,” said Boston star Jayson Tatum. “White was incredible. I’m still in disbelief.”

The Celtics whooped it up as if they had already won the NBA title.

“White became a flash of lightning,” said Jaylen Brown, who backed up Tatum’s 31 points and 12 rebounds with his 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Smart had 21 points. Although White had only 11 points, his final bucket saved Boston from elimination.

“Sometimes, things don’t break your way,” said Miami coach, the Filipino-American Erik Spoelstra. “This is one hell of a series.”

Tuesday’s winner-take-all decider begins at 8:30 a.m., with the victor bagging the NBA (National Basketball Association) Eastern Conference crown and, more importantly, advancing to the NBA Finals against Denver.

As host, Boston will have history on its side as it is 5-0 at home in elimination games this postseason.

Boston, only the fourth team to forge a Game 7, is now in a position to become the first to win a series after erasing a 3-0 deficit.

Teams leading 3-0 are 150-0 in NBA history.


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