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BOSTON — As the Boston Celtics went back and forth trading big shots and big stops with the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors last week, Jaylen Brown would occasionally look over to the bench during stoppages of play.
Among the faces he saw was an eager-to-play Carsen Edwards, who was in the midst of registering his first DNP-CD (Did not play-coach's decision) of his still-young NBA career.
“Carsen’s going to be ready when his number’s called,” Brown said after the Raptors win. “I see him on the bench, just itching to get in.”
Edwards got the call at New York on Saturday, and the second-round pick out of Purdue did not disappoint in helping Boston pull away for a 118-95 win over the Knicks.
He scored 10 points while playing slightly more than 22 minutes. Only Marcus Smart saw more action off Boston’s bench in the win.
Edwards said the DNP-CD did not catch him totally by surprise.
“You just learn from it. That’s something you expect in the NBA I guess, for someone like me,” Edwards told NBC Sports Boston. “It’s not like I came in thinking I was gonna just come in and play a lot of minutes. I knew coming in my minutes would likely change, here and there. I just try to stay ready, whenever I get an opportunity, be productive."
On the flight to New York from Boston, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens spent some time talking to Edwards, assuring him that even though he did not play the night before, his importance to the Celtics remains high — especially in back-to-back sets of games.
“I just think that sometimes on back-to-backs, having a guy you can throw in there who didn’t play the night before and energize the whole group is important,” Stevens said.
Edwards did just that in New York, as he finished the game with a plus/minus of plus-8, which was aided by good defensive ball pressure and a few timely shots going down.
“As long as he’s pressuring the ball, he’s got the green, green, green light,” Stevens said. “He can really stroke it and him coming off screens, demands a lot of attention.”
Edwards said he was pleasantly surprised when Stevens approached him wanting to talk.
“I was just happy we won,” Edwards said. “I didn’t expect him to talk to me about it. He’s the head coach and there’s so much he has to do, so much to think about. For him to even think about me, knowing I didn’t play and stuff like that, I guess it means I have a part on this team that’s valuable, I’m important to the team. It’s good for him to talk to me about it and everything. But at the end of the day, if I don’t play, it’ll be because it’s the best thing for the team.
"At the end of the day, I just want us to keep winning.”
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