Boston youngsters making an impact in crunch time

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and sophomore Terry Rozier both found themselves on the court late in the fourth quarter during Boston's five-point victory over the Toronto Raptors. Marcus Smart has had many of these opportunities already, but he too had a big impact late in the game. It is fantastic to see three Celtic players all under 22 years of age playing effective crunch time on a No. 2 team (and against a tough matchup).

Again, Smart has had a role in late games many times already so I want to focus on how well Brown and Rozier performed. Here is what coach Brad Stevens said about their presence on the court:

There were a couple of sequences that really highlighted Brown and Rozier's development and why they were able to hold their ground in a pivotal fourth quarter.

With 7:30 remaining, Rozier corralled his sixth board of the game and pushed the ball up the court, leading to a Brown open dunk attempt. Kyle Lowry got in the way and fouled Brown, but the 20-year-old showed some emotion afterwards by walking up towards Lowry and exchanging some words. Rozier also showed some passion, picking up a double-technical foul for with DeMarre Carrell. It's still unclear why exactly they were arguing, but it was nice to see the young guys showing some fire -- fire that teammates like Jae Crowder said that Brown needed to show in order to continue developing his game. Brown hit his two free-throws, but got some real revenge the next offensive play when Tyler Zeller connected with him on an explosive lob:

It's the little things too though -- Brown has looked much more comfortable on the court lately while in the starting lineup as a whole. He is making the extra pass when needed, playing more in control, and doing a good job of containing his man on defense like he did here late in the fourth quarter:

The 22-year-old Marcus Smart made more lowkey game-winning plays against Toronto (as usual), including winning a decisive jump-ball late in the contest:

The Celtics are a 2-seed. They just extended their lead on the Raptors. They have Brooklyn's first-rounders over the coming years. And they already have seen big improvements by Rozier, Brown, and Smart who are all under the age of 22. The future is bright my friends!

Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32

Photo by @celtics