The ascension of Jaylen Brown has given the Celtics a new ceiling

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Jaylen Brown

The storyline of the Celtics not having their star players in the playoffs has slowly faded because of their postseason success. Boston is still undefeated at home in these playoffs after taking a 2-0 series lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night.

Boston has excelled in the qualities a team needs when playing without star talent — they’re tough, they defend, they execute, and they’re unselfish. But we’ve all had to re-assess why the Celtics are still as good as they are without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. It’s all of the reasons I just mentioned, but it’s also because they still have extremely potent talent.

Each contributor for the Celtics has been a star in their own way and in their own moments, but I’m looking at the 21-year-old Jaylen Brown as the leading difference maker for this team’s current potential.

According to NBA.com/stats, Jaylen Brown is the first player in NBA history to record 20+ points and over five rebounds in back-to-back Conference Finals games at the age of 21 or younger. He scored 23 points against the Cavaliers in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on 53 percent shooting and 46 percent from three.

Last year Jaylen Brown played 12 minutes and averaged five points per game for the Celtics in 17 playoff games.

Brown is averaging 17 points and five rebounds per game in these playoffs with a 23.5 percent Usage Rating. The only other player on the Celtics with a higher usage rate in the playoffs playing over 30 minutes per game is Jayson Tatum at 24 percent. Tatum even leads the Celtics in scoring this postseason at 18 points per game, but it’s Brown’s extra year of league experience that slightly separates him in ability and confidence.

Case in point: LeBron James went nuts with a 21-point first quarter in Game 2. The only response and the only thing that kept the Celtics from a sizable early deficit was Jaylen Brown’s 14 points in the quarter.

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Brown seemed to seek out and embrace his chances to attack LeBron in Game 2. His versatility of attack is one of the Cavs’ biggest individual matchup issues with the Celtics.

He puts them on their heels in transition. He’s a threat off the dribble in the half court and knocks down catch-and-shoot threes. He’s showing that he can hurt you at any level of the floor.

And then it’s still easy for Brown to score in the system and out of set plays because of his strengths as a cutter and shooter.

The performances of Boston’s young studs in Brown, Terry Rozier, and Jayson Tatum in the playoffs have inspired people to understand just how serious the talent base is in Boston.

I still would side with Al Horford as the most important player on the Celtics. His 17 points and eight rebounds on 57 percent shooting in the playoffs only state his impact on the surface. 

In the absence of Boston’s established stars, the pathway to Jaylen Brown’s potential stardom has widened. He’s been the kind of player the Celtics needed in order to make it over the hump in certain tight situations, such as a 21-point quarter from the best player in basketball in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

In my opinion, while this team isn’t at all defined or dominated by one player, Jaylen Brown looks like the best player on the Celtics, and his performance is the main individual catalyst in raising their ceiling this postseason. 

And for the record, when I saw this I knew this kid was a problem.

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Martin is the Founder, Chief Editor, and Head Skills Development Trainer for Basketball Society. He has work experience in digital media and marketing, radio, and journalism. Currently, he does freelance work as a videographer and content creator. He has been featured as a writer on sites such as Def Pen, TV Film News, All Hip-Hop, and more. Martin played high school basketball at South Brunswick High School (NJ) where he graduated in 2007. He is a 1,000-point scorer at SBHS and an All-Middlesex County performer as a 3-year varsity starter. He helped lead SBHS to their first-ever Central Jersey Group 4 sectional state championship in 2007. Martin played college basketball at Eastern University, where he graduated (BA, Communications) in 2012. Martin was a four-year starter and a 1,000-point scorer at EU. Follow Martin on Twitter @Marsoaries and on Instagram @martin_soaries

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