Before the start of the season, the idea of Jaylen Brown leading the Celtics in playoff scoring would’ve obviously seemed unlikely. Yet with injuries depriving Boston of their top options, the mantle has passed to the second-year forward.
Brown, 21, has delivered so far in the postseason. Even in a Game 4 loss against the Bucks, Brown totaled a career high 34 points. His scoring ability helped Boston close a 20-point deficit. Despite falling in the end, it was an impressive performance.
And through four postseason contests, Brown is pacing the Celtics’ offense with 23.8 points per game.
If Brown continues to lead the team in playoff points, he would become the youngest player to do so in Celtics history. Granted, NBA rookies weren’t usually 21 years old in decades before the 1990s.
Still, it’s been a rare sight to see any Celtics young player achieve what Brown is on pace to do.
Here’s the all time list of Celtics players who led the team in playoff scoring under the age of 25:
Ed Macauley, 1951 (22 years old): In a best-of-three series against the Knicks, the Celtics were swept 2-0 to end Red Auerbach’s first season in Boston. Given the short series, it would appear to put a slight damper on Macauley’s achievement (22 points per game). That said, he was clearly the most prolific player that season. Along with fellow 22-year-old Bob Cousy, Macauley was the only player to average a double-digit point total (20.4).
Bob Cousy, 1952 (23 years old): Facing the Knicks in a rematch a year later, the Celtics once again fell in the first round of the playoffs. This time, it went to three games, with Cousy averaging a team high 31 points per game.
Bob Cousy, 1953 (24 years old): In Auerbach’s third year, the Celtics remained reliant on the young scoring duo of Macauley and Cousy (having also added Bill Sharman). Finally, Boston won a playoff series in a 2-0 sweep of the Syracuse Nationals. But once again, the Celtics couldn’t overcome the Knicks, losing the series 3-1. Cousy’s 20.4 points per game led Boston.
Tommy Heinsohn, 1957 (22 years old): Heinsohn capped his rookie season by averaging 22.9 points over 10 games in the Celtics’ first championship run. It was also Bill Russell’s first NBA season, with the two rookies helping Cousy and Sharman get Boston its first title.
Larry Bird, 1980 (23 years old): As a rookie, Bird was already the focal point of Boston’s offense. The Celtics swept the Rockets in the first round before bowing out in five games to the 76ers. In nine games, Bird averaged 21.3 points.
Larry Bird, 1981 (24 years old): In year two, Bird continued his playoff dominance. Averaging 21.9 points per game, the prolific forward helped guide the Celtics to a championship over the Rockets in six games.
Reggie Lewis, 1989 (23 years old): Given an increasingly important role in the offense, Lewis battled unsuccessfully to keep the Celtics from being swept 3-0 by the Pistons. His 20.3 points per game weren’t enough to hold back the eventual NBA champions from Detroit.
Paul Pierce, 2002 (24 years old): In his first taste of playoff basketball, Pierce asserted himself as Boston’s go-to scorer. Averaging 24.6 points per game, he helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals, where Boston lost in six games to the Nets.