Celtics Rookie Catches Fire & Has Best Game of Young Career in Win

Carsen Edwards

Getty Carsen Edwards in his Celtics preseason portrait. The rookie had a career-high 18 points November 13 against Washington.

Celtics fans got an exciting glimpse of Carsen Edwards during the preseason, when the rookie guard hit nine 3-pointers during a 30-point outburst against the Cavs. But the Purdue product had been quiet during Boston’s first nine regular-season games, averaging 4 points per game and shooting 25 percent from 3.

Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards was a different story.

Edwards, who got national attention earlier this month when he cut off his trademark dreadlocks, had his best regular-season game as a pro Wednesday, scoring a career-high 18 points off the bench on 4-for-5 3-point shooting in Boston’s 140-133 win.

Edwards was one of seven Celtics in double figures as Boston won its ninth straight game — and its second straight since losing Gordon Hayward to a broken hand.

Edwards, who’s sharing playing time off the bench with fellow guard Brad Wanamaker, exited the game to a loud ovation from the TD Garden crowd with just under 4:30 left in the fourth quarter.

As he headed to the bench, Celtics TV analyst Tommy Heinsohn raved “he played tonight like he played at Purdue.”

Statistically, Heinsohn’s comment wasn’t far off — especially when you account for the extent to which Edwards made the most of his playing time Wednesday. Edwards’ Wednesday scoring total wasn’t quite in line with the prolific numbers that he put up last year at Purdue, where he led the Big Ten in scoring at 24.3 points per game. But that scoring average came in a year when Edwards rarely left the court, averaging 35.4 minutes per game.

Wednesday night, his 18 points came in 20 minutes of playing time. He shot 7-for-12 from the floor and added a season-high-tying 4 rebounds and a season-high-tying 3 assists.

Carsen Edwards’ Highlights Against the Wizards

Though Boston led by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter and had the game in hand down the stretch, the game was competitive into the fourth quarter. Edwards’ first-half performance helped Boston go to the locker room with a 68-66 lead.

Edwards’ first points came late in the first quarter just after a pair of Bradley Beal free throws had given Washington a 29-26 lead. With 1:35 left in the quarter, Edwards hit a 3 that tied the game at 29.

With Boston again trailing by 3 with 7:17 left in the first half, Edwards hit a long 3 from the left wing off a feed from Wanamaker to tie it at 47.

And as Boston was starting to build a lead in the fourth quarter, Edwards was feeling it. With just under 10 minutes left in the game and Boston leading 110-99, Edwards came up with a steal and a breakaway layup to extend the lead.

He hit another long 3 off a Wanamaker feed to make it 117-105 Boston with 8:17 left, yet another 3 that made it 126-110 with 6:39 left, and one final 3 to make it 131-117 with 4:57 left.

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Where Carsen Edwards Fits in With the Celtics

Edwards was not the first player the Celtics selected in this year’s NBA Draft — a distinction that belongs to Romeo Langford, who Boston selected with the 14th overall pick. Among the Celtics’ crop of rookies, he hasn’t attracted the massive fan obsession of Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6 shot-blocking phenom who almost led UCF to an upset of Duke in the second round of the 2019 NCAA tournament and signed with the Celtics as an undrafted free agent.

Yet among the members of what SB Nation said “looks like a steal” of a draft class, Edwards has had the biggest immediate impact. Edwards has appeared in nine of the Celtics’ 10 games, second among rookies only to Grant Williams, who has appeared in all 10. Edwards leads Celtics rookies in scoring average (5.6 points per game) and is fifth on the team in 3-point percentage (36 percent), trailing Kemba Walker (44.4 percent), Hayward (43.3 percent), Jayson Tatum (40.3 percent), and Marcus Smart (38.8 percent.)

Edwards’ strengths were on full display Wednesday night. Edwards, who’s 6-foot-1, isn’t going to overpower many opposing guards. But he has the range to make opponents pay for giving him space beyond the 3-point line — something he demonstrated repeatedly against Washington. With Hayward out, Boston will need various players to step up if the Celtics are going to retain their spot atop the Eastern Conference standings. Edwards showed Wednesday night that he could be one of several players who can answer that call.

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