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Buffaloes in the NBA: Derrick White breaks out against hometown Nuggets

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Of course it ended like it did. Of course Derrick White, the hometown kid who starred at UCCS and CU-Boulder, balled out in the NBA Playoffs on the road against the Denver Nuggets. And of course clinched the San Antonio Spurs’ Game 1 upset by stealing the ball from Jamal Murray in the final seconds.

Going into the series, White was assigned the pivotal role of defending Murray, the Nuggets’ second player player and only consistent offensive threat outside Nikola Jokic. White stepped up and held Murray to atrocious game as the Canadian shot a 8-24 from the field and had zero assists. That’s Kobe Bryant during his farewell tour, not a 2-seed’s second best player.

White isn’t just a defensive specialist. He’s the Spurs’ starting point guard, and though he doesn’t (yet) lead the offense, he has the ball plenty and is amazingly patient waiting for the defense to mistake. On this play, he takes the ball up the court, sees no one stepped up to stop him, then sprints down and yams on Paul Millsap, another Colorado kid who rotated just in time to get destroyed.

White finished with the two highlights of the game, superb defense on a key player, and had 16 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting. This was his coming out party to a national audience. Spurs and Buffs fans alike have pegged him as a future star and he really showed it in his first playoff start.

White’s performance wasn’t the only great game from a Buffs point guard in a playoffs upset. Spencer Dinwiddie was also terrific as his Brooklyn Nets took Game 1 from the disjunctive Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets got out to a 15-point lead and they did that despite All-Star D’Angelo Russell shooting horribly until the second half. That was because Dinwiddie (and Caris LeVert) took advantage of Philly’s issues defending in space. He didn’t have to do much in the second half — because D’Lo carried them — but it’s hard to see Brooklyn getting the win without Spencer balling out to build their early lead.

Stay tuned for more coverage on White and Dinwiddie being amazing in the NBA Playoffs. Their teams have legitimate chances at pulling off these upsets and they play critical roles in that.