Derrick White on Celtics’ team philosophy: ‘if someone’s got it going, we’re gonna keep going to them’

Derrick White on Celtics’ team philosophy: ‘if someone’s got it going, we’re gonna keep going to them’


“The players they have are really good,” Coby White said of the Boston Celtics. “They got a s*** ton of good players.”

Outside of a rough second quarter where Nikola Vucevic found a rhythm, the Celtics completely outclassed the Bulls. And they did it with multiple big-time performances.

But that wasn’t White’s reaction to the game. That was a prognostication. He uttered those words at the Bulls’ morning shootaround roughly 10 hours before tip-off.

“I mean, that’s the fun thing about this team,” said Derrick White. “Most nights, [it’s] JT [Jayson Tatum], JB [Jaylen Brown], and KP [Kristaps Porzingis]. They allow myself and everybody else the freedom [to go] do what we need to do, too. So, having guys like that at the top just allowing us to be aggressive, it’s a fun [team] to play with.”

Stating that Boston has “good players” is equivalent to the groundbreaking conclusion that peanut butter goes well with jelly.


Boston went into the All-Star break with a 43-12 record, and their win on Thursday night marked their seventh in a row. They now have a seven-game lead atop the Eastern Conference. A team doesn’t get to that point without an elite cast of guys.

The collective in Boston is great, but the manner in which each player can individually pick apart an opponent is what makes the Celtics more than just any other good team with good players.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls

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In the first quarter, it was White. He dropped 12 points on the Bulls, blocked three shots, and went 4-of-7 from the field and 2-of-5 from distance.

Then Brown handled the second quarter, scoring 14 points on seven shot attempts. As the Celtics got pushed back on their heels, his scoring punch kept them in the game.

After a rough second, Tatum composed the Celtics in the third. He had 15 points on eight shot attempts and dished out three assists, propelling Boston to a 37-21 quarter over Chicago.

White closed things out with a 10-point, three-assist fourth quarter, overwhelming the Bulls in the pick-n-roll.

Quarter by quarter, Boston picked Chicago apart, and in each frame, it was a different star than the last. From White to Brown to Tatum back to White again, Chicago got beat from all angles.

“I don’t think it’s a set thing like, if this is your quarter, you got to go,” White said. “[I] just feel like we’re just playing off each other. If someone’s got it going, we’re gonna keep going to them.

“I think JB had it going in the second quarter there, and we just kept going back to him. And that’s just the fun thing is, each quarter might be somebody different, and we’re just all ready to go and have a lot of fun with it.”

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

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Talent shines through. That’s almost always been the case in the NBA. But it hasn’t always shone through for the right reasons.

The Brooklyn Nets can attest. The Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden Nets flopped. Were they an injury away from a potential title run in 2021? Perhaps. But injuries happen. That’s a part of the game.

Look at the Russell Westbrook-era Los Angeles Lakers. Can it even be called an era? They failed before they ever even got off the ground. Westbrook never appeared in a playoff game for the Lakers.

Even the 2018-19 Celtics fall into the category. Irving, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Al Horford, Tatum, and Brown were supposed to win a title, but personalities got in the way.

The 2023-24 Celtics added two All-Stars to the mix over the summer, yet they’ve preached nothing but the same harmonious messages all season, no matter how difficult the mental switch may be.

“I mean, yeah. I’m human, right? It’s a process,” Tatum said of the adjustment. “I was First Team All-NBA the last two years. I averaged 30. Like, the human side, yeah, you want to continue to average more every year. You see other guys putting up 30-plus a night. You know you could do that. But part of growing is understanding what we have and this window. Trying to maximize that and uplift the guys around me.”

Having talented players only matters when they’re willing to put their talent aside.

“I know I can score 30 a night. I did that. But that’s not necessarily what this team needs on a nightly basis,” Tatum said. “So, taking that step back, in a sense, for us to be better. I’ve done everything but win a championship. So, that’s, that’s the only thing, that’s all I’m going to be judged on at this point in my career. So, just doing what it takes to help us get to that point.”

The Celtics have a core group of players, each of whom can single-handedly take down a team on any given night. But more importantly, they have a group of guys who don’t care about doing that.


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