CLEVELAND — The Celtics ended their preseason 4-0 Tuesday night after an impressive 118-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the remodeled and renamed Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
It was impressive because the Celtics left seven regulars back in Boston, but that allowed rookies Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters to match up against Cleveland’s young backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
The matchup wasn’t even close.
Edwards went on a scoring spree to open the third period, hitting eight 3-pointers and scoring 26 points in a span of 8:46. Waters added 22 points and 7-foot-5-inch Tacko Fall, playing a career-high 18 minutes, contributed 5 points and two rebounds.
Here are some observations from the game:
■ Edwards is vying for a bench role. He couldn’t be stopped in the third quarter Tuesday as teammates continually fed him the ball for open looks. He was 9 of 12 from the field in that span — including 8 for 11 from the 3-point arc — before calling it a night with 3:14 left in the third period.
The Cavaliers tried different defenders, double-teams, and even tried to deny him the ball. Nothing worked. The rookie finished with 30 points and was 9 of 15 on 3-pointers.
It was a performance reminiscent of Isaiah Thomas in the 2017 NBA playoffs, and Edwards is just a second-round pick.
“It’s a blessing to have this opportunity,” Edwards said. “It’s pretty cool to have this happen. The shot feels good.”
Edwards took a shot to the nose from Jarell Martin two minutes into the game and immediately headed to the locker room.
“I was bleeding everywhere, there was so much blood,” he said. “I felt fine, no headaches or anything. I definitely wanted to go back out there. There was an opportunity for us with a lot of guys not making the trip. I just wanted to get back out there.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he was pleased Edwards’s teammates continued to feed him the ball when his shots starting falling.
“I think he lives on heat check,” Stevens said. “He should. He’s a good shooter. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that. Those were deep, hard 3s. How many? Eight in 5:06? I’ve never seen anything like that. I don’t know if I have any reference point.”
■ It was an early education for rookie Grant Williams, who was matched up against former All-Star Kevin Love. Love, who did not play in Sunday’s first meeting, scored Cleveland’s first 6 points on midrange jumpers. Williams recovered, however, to score 8 points in the opening period with two 3-pointers. Williams is not going to wow opponents with his athleticism, but he does possess a steady style.
“I got a good possession against him, one-on-one straight up, which was different,” Williams said. “Seeing him and seeing the type of shots that he hit just for that glimpse of a moment, you know how talented of a player he is.”
■ Speaking of Love, he appears out of place in Cleveland’s youth movement. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cavaliers tried to showcase the 31-year-old for a trade in the coming weeks. The Cavaliers are going through a complete youth movement, playing two rookies — Kevin Porter and Garland — extensively with stop-gap pieces Martin and Matthew Dellavedova getting quality minutes.
■ The Celtics picked up the fourth-year option on Jayson Tatum’s contract, a formality, before the preseason ended because his agents requested the move. The Celtics generally prefer to wait until the end of the preseason to pick up club options. That leaves center Robert Williams, who will have his third-year option picked up perhaps as early as Wednesday, according to a team source.
Tatum will be eligible for a maximum extension — six years for $150 million — next summer. The Celtics have never agreed to maximum rookie extension.
■ Tatum was one of seven Celtics — including Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward — who remained in Boston. Stevens said he wanted to give the four players who played for Team USA this summer a mini-break as the season approaches. The team will take Wednesday off before a mini-camp-style session before the Oct. 23 regular-season opener against the 76ers in Philadelphia.
■ It was an ugly first few minutes for the Celtics as Edwards and Williams each left the game after taking elbows to the face. Edwards caught contact from Martin while chasing a loose ball, while Love hit Williams flush in the face with an elbow as they pursued a rebound. Williams was examined by Cavaliers team doctors and ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Williams began showing concussion-like symptoms that could threaten his availability for the opener. If Williams is diagnosed with a concussion he would have to be cleared through the league’s extensive protocol system before returning.
Williams would have to be clear of concussion symptoms for 24 hours before returning to basketball activity, then would have to be cleared by an NBA doctor as well as team doctors.