Carsen Edwards

NBA Restart: Celtics still waiting on any bench player to step up

NBA Restart: Celtics still waiting on any bench player to step up

We could sit here and scream about how poor Boston’s defense has been inside the bubble. The Celtics own a defensive rating of 117.9 after their first three seeding games, and only one team has a worse mark (the helter-skelter Sixers).

We could lament Boston’s lethargy after the team whiffed Tuesday with a chance to essentially lock up the No. 3 seed while playing a Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat team that was on the second night of a back-to-back.

Boston hasn’t played with any sort of consistent energy in its three games, falling behind early against Milwaukee, coughing up a big lead against Portland, and trying to play catchup all night against Miami.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nets, which begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

But here’s one thought we couldn’t shake while watching Tuesday’s game: What a luxury it is for Miami to have a rookie like Tyler Herro on their bench. Herro chipped in 11 points over 22 minutes during the Heat’s 112-106 triumph.

With Marcus Smart in foul trouble — so much so that he fouled out late in the third quarter — Boston lacked a bench boost. Take away Enes Kanter’s 10 points and the Celtics’ reserve trio of Grant Williams, Brad Wanamaker, and Smart combined for 14 points on 4-of-18 shooting.

At one point during the second half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens dispatched Romeo Langford for his first seeding-game minutes but Langford turned in a scoreless 3 minutes, 44 seconds, in which he mostly blended into the scenery.

Herro, of course, went one spot ahead of Langford in the 2019 draft. There had been a buzz before draft night that the Celtics were fond of Herro and that he had impressed the team with his shooting in one of his workouts. There might have even been a few groans inside the Auerbach Center when Miami snagged the Kentucky product at No. 13.

The Celtics ultimately took Langford, who has no shortage of potential and might eventually be a better pro. But his rookie season got off to a slow start as he healed from hand surgery and then he dealt with a bunch of minor maladies that even limited how much floor time he got with the Maine Red Claws of the G-League.

Herro has now appeared in 50 games for Miami while shooting a robust 39 percent beyond the 3-point arc on 5.4 attempts per game. He wasn’t even Miami’s best rookie this season — that distinction goes to Kendrick Nunn — but Herro won Erik Spoelstra’s confidence and is now a key rotation piece while logging 26.9 minutes per game.

On Tuesday, Miami’s four-man bench combined for 43 points on 31 shots while each player logged at least 21 minutes of floor time. For Boston, Semi Ojeleye missed five of his six shots, including multiple open 3s. Smart finished 0-for-5 shooting.

Make no mistake, Boston will lean heavy on its core players when the playoffs arrive. When Kemba Walker is off his minute restriction, and combined with a hefty dose of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward, that might leave only a small handful of minutes for reserves not named Smart.

Still, games like Tuesday night show how important it is to have players that can take the baton, even if it’s only on rare nights. None of Boston’s younger players have shown enough this year to earn Stevens’ unwavering trust.

Again, guys like Grant Williams and Langford could have bright futures. Maybe Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters, too. That’s especially important for Boston because of how much money they have tied up long term in their core players.

But the fact of that matter is that, right now, none of Boston’s rookies have seized their opportunity, nor has 2018 first-round pick Robert Williams, who was only inserted late in Tuesday’s game to defend an inbounds attempt with his length and bounce.

Those players could get another chance to show what they’ve got on Wednesday when Boston plays a back-to-back against the Nets. With Walker set to rest his knee and Stevens unlikely to go too heavy on starter minutes in the team’s first (and only) bubble double, younger players will need to take advantage of whatever minutes come their way.

Herro won’t be the difference between a first-round upset and a first-round exit for Miami. But the Heat are well-positioned moving into the future because of the progress their youngest players made this season. It’s critical teams develop talent if they are going to commit most of their money to their top stars.

The Celtics are left waiting for their youngest players to show they are ready.

Enes Kanter Show: It could get ugly for opponents when Kemba’s healthy | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Celtics vs. Rockets: Watch best highlights from Boston's final scrimmage

Celtics vs. Rockets: Watch best highlights from Boston's final scrimmage

The Boston Celtics wrapped up their scrimmage schedule from the NBA bubble Tuesday night by giving their young players and bench plenty of playing time against the Houston Rockets.

The Celtics rested their normal starting five plus Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter, while the Rockets played their starters into the second half. The young C's started out hot and opened a 10-0 lead, but it didn't take long for James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the veteran Houston lineup to take control of the game.

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There wasn't a lot of defense played in the second half as the Rockets cruised to a 137-112 victory.

Harden, who leads the league in scoring at 34.4 points per game, poured in a game-high 35 points on 10-for-16 shooting. The Celtics had six players score in double figures, led by Carsen Edwards' 19 points and Grant Williams' 15 points. Celtics center Tacko Fall also made his scrimmage debut and scored six points in nine minutes.

Here are the best highlights from the Celtics' final scrimmage in the Orlando bubble.

HIGHLIGHTS

Robert Williams started the action with a slam dunk.

Brad Wanamaker scored on a nice drive to the basket.

James Harden led all scorers with 13 points in the first quarter.

Grant Williams' offensive game has really improved.

A sick crossover, a behind-the-back pass and a 3-point shot -- all in 10 seconds.

G-League Rookie of the Year Tremont Waters showed off his range from beyond the arc.

CARSEN. EDWARDS.

Tacko Fall denied former Celtic Jeff Green.

The action begins for real on Friday night when the Celtics take on the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks in their first seeding game of the league's restart. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Bucks, which begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Is Jaylen Brown going to dominate the bubble? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

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Watch Carsen Edwards throw down huge dunk on James Harden in Celtics scrimmage

Watch Carsen Edwards throw down huge dunk on James Harden in Celtics scrimmage

Boston Celtics guard Carsen Edwards added to his rookie highlight reel with an amazing dunk in Tuesday night's scrimmage against the Houston Rockets.

Early in the third quarter, Edwards drove past Rockets guard Russell Westbrook toward the basket and threw down a thunderous slam over Rockets guard James Harden.

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Dunking between two former NBA MVP winners is a pretty impressive feat. Check out the play in the video below:

Here's another angle: 

Edwards is best known for his outside shooting, but clearly, he has the ability to rise up and throw it down, too. 

"I’ve got to be honest, I think we were down 20 at the time so I didn’t really react either," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said when asked about Edwards' dunk. "I know Carsen was pretty excited but I was thinking more about us running back. But I do think that’s the benefit of a night like tonight is Carsen and Romeo [Langford] and Grant [Williams], Tremont [Waters], Javonte [Green], we had a good six or seven rookies playing tonight which -- six or seven rookies is a lot of rookies on one team — but for them to all get the chance to play extended minutes against players of this caliber and a team of that caliber, I thought was a positive, even though we didn’t do everything well."

The Celtics' first seeding game from the Orlando bubble is Friday night against the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Bucks, which begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.