Like longtime Celtics Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, former Spurs guard Derrick White was a member of the USA Basketball team that played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. As Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes, the training camp for that World Cup represented the first time that Smart met White, who is now playing a key role for Boston as the team seeks a championship.
“We knew that Derrick understood the game, the way he plays,” Smart said on Thursday, revisiting their first meeting. “Watching him play before we got to USA reminded myself a little bit of me. So, just instantly off the bat, I loved the way he played.”
While Team USA had a disappointing run at the 2019 World Cup, finishing in seventh place, White and Smart are having more success as Celtics teammates. Boston is now just three wins away from a title after White, acquired in a deadline deal in February, played a key role in Thursday’s Game 1 win with 21 points and five three-pointers.
“Every day he’s done something new to make you go, ‘That’s why he’s here,'” Smart said of his fellow guard.
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- Smart was no longer listed on the Celtics‘ injury report for Game 1 on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean his right ankle sprain has fully healed. “The ankle is a pretty serious injury,” Smart said on Wednesday when asked about it (Twitter link via Jared Weiss of The Athletic). “I’m thankful to let alone play and still be walking. It hurt, but my mama always told me if you’re gonna play, you can’t make no excuses.”
- Now that they know they’ll have the No. 23 pick in this year’s draft rather than sending it to Brooklyn, the Sixers can focus on what to do with that selection. Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice identifies five draft prospects who would make sense as potential targets if Philadelphia hangs onto the pick.
- In a Twitter thread, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca explains why he believes the Raptors are extremely unlikely to trade OG Anunoby this summer, despite rumors that he could be available.
- Gabe Brown (Michigan State), Marcus Bingham (Michigan State), Trent Frazier (Illinois), and JD Notae (Arkansas) are among the prospects who worked out for the Raptors earlier this week, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and Brandon Simberg of Busting Brackets (Twitter links).