Celtics

Derrick White makes self-deprecating comment on Celtics’ Game 7 chances following Game 6 loss

"If it was easy, it wouldn't be us."

Derrick White arguably had his best game in a Celtics uniform in Game 6. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Friday evening was supposed to be a coronation for the Celtics — an evening where they would advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years capped off with a ceremony that would see one of their own win the first-ever Larry Bird MVP trophy.

Instead, Boston is packing its bags to fly down to South Beach to play Miami in a win-or-go-home Game 7 on Sunday.

The Celtics fell to the Heat in Friday’s Game 6, 111-103, blowing the opportunity to win the Eastern Conference title at home.

They also blew what was arguably the best game they got from Derrick White. The backup guard, who arrived in Boston in February following a trade from San Antonio, scored 22 points (the most he’s ever scored since joining the Celtics) on 7-of-14 shooting, making 4-of-7 3-pointers, and tied for a team-high five assists.

White admitted there was some disappointment among the Celtics following the game.

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“Just kind of overall frustrated, but get some rest, learn from it, get on this plane and go to Miami and get a win,” White said when asked about the mood of the locker room following the game.

With Friday’s loss, the Celtics will play in a Game 7 for a second consecutive series. And for the second straight series, it feels like the Celtics could have avoided ending up being in a win-or-go-home spot.

White recognized that following the Game 6 loss.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re frustrated, but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be us,” White said. “We’re going to get on this plane, we’re going to go down to Miami and try to get the big win in Game 7. We’ve been here before, and we’ve got a lot of confidence in our group.”

The Game 6 loss might have been another chapter in the Celtics’ book on how they’ve made the playoffs harder on them than they should be. They committed 18 turnovers in the loss. Their star player, Jayson Tatum, accounted for seven of those, giving the Heat the ball four times in the final quarter.

Tatum did score 30 on an efficient 9-of-12 shooting in Game 6. But in addition to getting Tatum to turn the ball over, Miami’s defense also limited the number of shots Tatum put up in the fourth quarter. Tatum had just one shot, a driver floater he made with 1:08 left, in the fourth. He only went to the free-throw line twice, making all four of his free throws.

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Even though Tatum was held in check at the end of Game 6, his confidence remains high that the Celtics can take Game 7.

“Scale of 1 to 10? 10,” Tatum said when asked about his confidence level the Celtics would win Game 7. “I mean, it shouldn’t be any less than that, right? You know, it’s the last game. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a 10 out of 10 in my confidence level and the group.”

“It’s no secret. It’s Game 7, trip to the NBA Finals, a lot on the line,” Tatum added. “A couple of us have been in this situation before, so we know what’s at stake. We know how much this means to everybody.”

Despite what could be a very deflating loss, Celtics coach Ime Udoka believes there’s enough prior evidence that his squad can take home a Game 7 win against the Heat.

“We won the close-out game, obviously, Game 7 [against Milwaukee], and for us, we’ve won two in Miami, so that’s the positive of it,” Udoka said. “We know we can go there and win.”

Udoka also made the same realization that White did.

“But just have to make it harder than it is, and at times it feels like we’re doing that, not taking advantage of what’s in front of us, and just overall sloppy basketball on both ends,” Udoka said. “So we can’t have that on the road. We’ve done a good job getting off to better starts there, and just have to maintain that through our physicality.”

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The Celtics did win the last two games in Miami, and in decisive fashion, too, with both wins coming by double-digits.

Celtics star Jaylen Brown, who scored 20 points in Game 6, admitted it “hurt to lose on our home floor.” But like every other Celtic who spoke following Friday’s loss, he remained confident that they will be the Eastern Conference champion.

“Just got to breathe. You’ve got to get ready, like you said, prepare mentally, but come into the game loose, come into the game free, come into the game with a clear mind,” Brown said. “You don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on yourself and come and be ready to hoop, come ready to play basketball.

“At the end of the day, that’s what it is. We understand the severity of the game that’s on the line. We’ve just got to come out and play Celtic basketball tonight. We’ve got a great opportunity, and we left the ball short.

“We’ve got another opportunity on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it.”

As Brown said, the Celtics will get another opportunity for the coronation they were looking for on Sunday. If they blow that chance, their remarkable in-season turnaround will come to a close and for the second time in four seasons, the Celtics will have fallen a game short of the NBA Finals.

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