Celtics’ Ime Udoka Confident With Derrick White Starting Game 2

Udoka sees 'not a lot of drop off' with White replacing Smart

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The Boston Celtics already face an uphill battle for Game 2 of their second-round playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks with Marcus Smart unable to play due to a right thigh contusion.

But Celtics coach Ime Udoka feels confident in sliding Derrick White into Smart’s role in the starting lineup.

Udoka acknowledged its tough to exactly replicate what Smart does on the court, but he sees White bringing a similar defensive versatility to the floor while also being a suitable replacement to run Boston’s offense.

“That’s the benefit of Derrick. I think he does a lot of things well,” Udoka said during his pregame press conference on Tuesday. “Obviously, it’s hard to make-up for Marcus, specifically what he does for our team, but the scheme and coverage doesn’t change. Derrick is another big guard that we don’t lose a lot of size and versatility defensively. And then offensively, he’s very capable of scoring, running the plays and getting guys involved. The beauty of having him is he checks a lot of those boxes.”

Udoka added, “Not a lot of drop off with Derrick in there other than the toughness that nobody really brings that Marcus has.”

The Celtics acquired White from the San Antonio Spurs at this year’s trade deadline and the 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard will have the spotlight firmly on him as Boston tries to even up its best-of-seven series with the Bucks.

White’s provided only a flickering spark off the bench during the playoffs, averaging 6.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. White has particularly struggled shooting the ball, making just 34.5% of his shots from the floor in five postseason games and shooting an even worse 21.4% from beyond the arc.

White will certainly be expected to deliver more as he takes on a larger role in Game 2.

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