After being tested over the course of a four-game West Coast road trip, the Boston Celtics were hoping for some form of relaxation upon returning home to face the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.
But they certainly didn't get it.
Boston's perfect home record was on life support on Thursday, as the Celtics trailed a notoriously feeble Detroit team by 19 at halftime. The Pistons entered the contest on a 27-game losing streak, the longest single-season skid in NBA history.
Kristaps Porzingis then came to the rescue, scoring 23 points in the second half to help force overtime, where Boston pulled away to avoid what would have been a downright humiliating setback.
Porzingis was unavailable on Friday, though, sitting out with a left calf injury as Toronto came to town. Jayson Tatum was also on the shelf nursing a left ankle sprain, and Al Horford missed the meeting with the Raptors because of rest.
This time around, it looked like the Celtics were going to cruise to a victory after going into the fourth quarter with a 13-point lead.
However, Toronto opened the final period with a 10-0 run to pull within 99-96, and the Raptors later led by as many as four before Boston took back control to squeak out a 120-118 victory.
With the wins, the Celtics improved to 16-0 at home for just the second time in franchise history. The 1957-58 team got off to the best start in Boston, rattling off 18 straight victories.
Here's what we learned from the Celtics' brief homestand:
1) Derrick White is Definitely an All-Star
Few could have predicted that White would turn into the player he is today when Boston acquired him from the San Antonio Spurs for Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford and a first-round pick back in February of 2022.
White averaged 22.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the past two games. He's also been a menace on the defensive end, recording at least two blocks in seven consecutive contests -- as a guard, nonetheless.
Although he struggled to a 5-for-19 performance from the field on Friday, White still came through when it mattered most, beating the shot clock with a step-back 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 110-109 lead with 3:21 remaining. He also added a pair of free throws and a layup down the stretch.
This all came a night after he went for 23 points against Detroit, netting 10 of those in the extra session.
What makes White special is the fact that he's typically the fifth- or fourth-best offensive option but can easily play up to be a No. 3, a No. 2 and, at times, even a No. 1 depending on who's in and who's out on a nightly basis.
You won't find another team in the league that has a player in White's role who has the potential to go off for 30-plus points while also providing elite defense. White's basketball IQ also tends to fly under the radar, but very rarely does the seventh-year veteran make the wrong play.
Had it not been for White, there's a very good chance Boston loses to both the Pistons and Raptors.