The MVP chants from the TD Garden crowd are usually reserved for Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum when he makes his way to the free-throw line.
But in Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, the Celtics fans in attendance bestowed that high praise not on Tatum, but on supporting cast member Derrick White. And it certainly was deserved.
White stole the spotlight in the 119-106 win to give the Celtics a 2-0 series lead in the first-round playoff series. He poured in 26 points — which only trailed Tatum’s 29 on the Celtics — on an efficient 11-for-16 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks.
Despite the stellar performance, White doesn’t believe those MVP chants should be shouted his way.
“That’s JT. That ain’t me,” White told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin on the floor following the victory.
White just wants to stick to doing his part as a role player, but he isn’t exactly playing the part in the playoffs by undeniably stepping up in the first two games against the Hawks. So far, he has outscored Jaylen Brown in the series.
And Tatum was more than willing to take a step back and let those in attendance share their feelings about the level at which they believe White has played.
“I was happy for him,” Tatum told reporters, per-league provided video. “He’s been playing his ass off these last two games. Obviously, a big, big reason why we won these two games. We need him to continue to play at this level and he can.
“I was happy to hear that for him. We talked about it after the game. He was like, ‘That’s what it feels like?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I guess.'”