Carsen Edwards

Celtics' bench power surge just in time with trip out West on the horizon

Celtics' bench power surge just in time with trip out West on the horizon

BOSTON — There has been little to be overly critical about when it comes to the Boston Celtics this season. 

Wednesday’s high-scoring affair with Washington ended with Boston prevailing 140-133, giving them a ninth straight win to improve upon their league-best record of 9-1. 

But the win over the Wizards was different than most this season because of the significant contributions made by the bench, a group that hasn’t been that impactful this season. 

According to Hoopsstats.com, the Celtics bench averages just 27.7 points per game, which ranks 29th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA. 

But against Washington, the second unit outscored their Washington counterparts 40-29, with all six of the Celtics off the bench scoring at least two points.

That was a bit surprising, not only because of Boston’s lack of scoring punch off the bench, but also because bench scoring has been one of the few strengths of the Wizards this season. Washington’s bench averages 43.4 points per game, which ranks sixth in the NBA.  

For Boston to have such a collectively strong game could not have come at a better time with the Celtics heading out for their longest road trip of the season beginning Friday at Golden State. 

Among the backups to step up against Washington was Brad Wanamaker, who had 10 points and five assists in the Celtics' victory. 

He is well aware that the team’s second unit is viewed by some as the team’s weak link. But such talk doesn’t faze him. 

“Ignore the outside noise,” Wanamaker told NBC Sports Boston. “We know what we’re capable of doing in this locker room.”

Part of the challenge for Boston’s bench has been injuries that have forced the Celtics to elevate players on the second unit to starter status. 

Marcus Smart has been called up from the bench and inserted into the starting lineup to replace Gordon Hayward, who will be out for another five or so weeks following surgery to repair a bone fracture in his left hand. 

And Daniel Theis — who has been the team’s primary starter at center — did not play against Washington due to a dislocated finger injury. His primary backup this season, Robert Williams III, was a late scratch Wednesday with a sore ankle. 

That meant Enes Kanter (13 points, nine rebounds) was back in the starting lineup while rookie center Vincent Poirier was eleveated from the end of the bench to be a prominent part of the rotation. 

“It is great to help the team,” Poirier told NBC Sports Boston. “I knew I would play because we had two guys out (Theis and Williams III). I was ready. Ready to help the team and do my best.”

Poirier tallied three points, four rebounds and three assists in addition to setting screens that frequently freed up teammates for great looks at the basket. 

Boston also got a career game from Carsen “Boogie” Edwards, who led all of Boston’s backups with a career-high 18 points. 

“It’s important for nights like this,” Edwards said. “It’s good for games like this when we do get minutes, to try and make the best of them and help the team.”

And that aid will be needed in the coming days as Boston (9-1) puts their league-best record to the test beginning on Friday at Golden State, followed by road games at Sacramento (Nov. 17), Phoenix (Nov. 18), the Los Angeles Clippers (Nov. 20) and finally Denver (Nov. 22).

“We gotta have everybody; it’s gonna be team wins so we’re going to need everybody,” said Jaylen Brown. “So for everybody to stay ready, that’ll be great for us.”

Kemba Walker had similar thoughts on the bench’s impact going forward. 

“It’s about staying ready,” Walker said. “We need our bench, we need those guys to step up and just come in and just do what they can to help us. Of course a lot of attention will be on myself and the rest of the starters, but those guys coming off the bench and come in, they’re gonna be huge for us.”

Looking for the best unfiltered Celtics conversation each week and throughout the offseason? Listen and Subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast!

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Isaiah Thomas gives Carsen Edwards a glowing endorsement on Twitter

Isaiah Thomas gives Carsen Edwards a glowing endorsement on Twitter

Boston Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards makes a big first impression for someone of his stature.

Isaiah Thomas can relate.

Edwards scored a career-high 18 points off the bench Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards while rocking No. 4, the same number Thomas wore during his successful tenure in Boston.

The 5-foot-11 Edwards then admitted he views the 5-foot-9 Thomas as an inspiration for shorter players like himself. On Thursday, Thomas reciprocated Edwards' respect.

Edwards already is turning heads early in his NBA career: His preseason 3-point barrage against the Cleveland Cavaliers drew the eye of ex-superstar Dwyane Wade, while others have labeled the 33rd overall pick a steal in the 2019 NBA Draft.

But Thomas' endorsement has to be extra special for Edwards considering he faced even more adversity than the Purdue product. Thomas was picked dead last in the 2011 NBA Draft and heard constant concerns about his height before becoming an All-Star in Boston.

Edwards has a much smaller role on Boston's talented roster than Thomas did as a rookie in Sacramento. But here's a stat to consider: Edwards is averaging 16.8 points per 36 minutes, while Thomas averaged 16.3 points per 36 minutes during his rookie season.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

A. Sherrod Blakely's Takeaways: Jayson Tatum, Carsen Edwards part of Celtics big scoring night to offset 44 from Wizards' Bradley Beal

A. Sherrod Blakely's Takeaways: Jayson Tatum, Carsen Edwards part of Celtics big scoring night to offset 44 from Wizards' Bradley Beal

BOSTON -- The bond that exists between Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal is Teflon-tough.

The two grew up in the same St. Louis neighborhood, with the older Beal often playing the role of Big Bro to Tatum. 

So, Beal had a pretty good idea what to expect from Tatum, who had missed 17 of 18 shots on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks. 

“He’s coming out gunning,” Beal said before the game Wednesday night. “I know it. He forgot about that game and looking forward to this one.”

No truer words have been spoken about Tatum, who put in some extra time at the practice facility on Monday night, just hours removed from the worst shooting game of his still-young NBA career. 

And in his first chance to redeem himself, Tatum did not disappoint in helping Boston hold on for a 140-133 win. 

Tatum finished with 23 points on 9-for-20 shooting to go with four assists and three rebounds. 

Beal did his part for the Wizards (2-7), leading all scorers with 44 points on 17-for-27 shooting to go with five rebounds and six assists. 

Former Celtic Isaiah Thomas, making his first start against his former team since being traded in 2017, had 18 points for the Wizards on 7-for-14 shooting in addition to seven assists. 

Here are four other takeaways from the Celtics' ninth win in a row that puts them at 9-1 heading on their five-game Western trip.


KEMBA WALKER

It was yet another night where Kemba Walker got buckets in a critical surge by the Celtics that ultimately led to a victory. And what we’re seeing lately is Walker not only scoring, but doing so in a more efficient manner. Against the Wizards, Walker finished with 25 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field. He also managed to grab five rebounds to go with five assists. 
 

BENCH PLAY

The Celtics’ second unit had been a first-rate problem most of this season in both scoring and, more significantly, having a major impact on games. That was not the case on Wednesday with the C's getting strong contributions from a number of their backups. Boston’s bench outscored their Washington brethren 40-29 with rookie Carsen Edwards leading the way with a career-high 18 points. Second-year guard Brad Wanamaker had a strong night for the Celtics as well, with 10 points and five assists. The Celtics used six players off the bench, all of whom scored at least two points.  

CARSEN EDWARDS

There was no way to ignore the impact made by Edwards. Arguably one of the best shooters on the team, Edwards has looked nothing like that for most of this season. He came into the game shooting just 25 percent from 3-point range and 31.3 percent from the field. Against the Wizards, Edwards scored a career-high 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting which included going 4-for-5 from 3-point range. He also grabbed four rebounds and handed out three assists. 

ENES KANTER

There were a number of Celtics players who had better numbers and overall a bigger impact on Wednesday. Still, to see Kanter on the floor was a major plus for Boston, even if it was due to both Daniel Theis (finger) and Robert Williams III (ankle) being out. The Celtics are going to need Kanter to step up in a big way at some point this season. The sooner he shows he’s capable of doing Kanter-like things (score around the basket and rebound the basketball), the better off both he and the C's will be. In a limited capacity, we saw Kanter do just that against the Wizards. He was a major presence in the paint - particularly on the offensive boards - before finishing with a near double-double of 13 points on just 4-for-5 shooting, and nine rebounds. 

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.