Pregame Post-Ups: Brown Gets Defensive Call vs. Butler

Friday, Jan. 5 - Timerwolves at Celtics

Pregame – Jaylen Brown Gets the Defensive Call vs. Butler

BOSTON – Avery Bradley was the defensive stopper who quieted Jimmy Butler during last year’s postseason matchup between the Celtics and the Bulls. Who will get the assignment this season, now that Bradley has moved on to Detroit and Butler now plays for Minnesota?

In the eyes of Brad Stevens, 21-year-old wing Jaylen Brown is the perfect man for the job.

Brown, who debuted last night at No. 10 among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting, has been Boston’s go-to perimeter defender all season long, and he has excelled in that role.

“I think he has his moments where he’s really, really special,” Stevens said of Brown’s defensive abilities.

Brown has grown and evolved as a defender throughout this season. He has faced off against everyone from Giannis Antetokounmpo to LeBron James to Klay Thompson to DeMar DeRozan. All of those assignments have helped to prepare him for tonight’s challenge of defending Butler, who carries averages of 21.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game into tonight’s contest.

“Every night, guarding the best wing on another team is really tough. You don’t get any nights off doing that,” Stevens said. “All those guys have different skill sets and bring different things to the table. And then you get some nights where they can do it all, like tonight.”

Butler is one of top all-around players in the league. He can score, rebound, pass and defend, all at a high level.

He was just nominated for Western Conference Player of the Month after compiling averages of 26.5 points, 5.5 rebounds. 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game during December. He has carried that momentum into January as well, as he has averaged 29.0 points, 6.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game during two January contests.

“He’s looked like a guy that they go to off the post, off the lane, pick-and-roll, off of pin-downs, any which way to try to score, especially with the game on the line, and he’s really delivered,” Stevens said of Butler. “And then on the other end, he’s always been a really good defender. So he’s one of the better two-way guys around, and he’s a handful.”

Bradley typically dealt with that handful in past seasons when the Celtics faced off against the Bulls. Tonight, it will be Brown’s turn to try to shut Butler down when the C’s and Timberwolves meet at 7 p.m. inside TD Garden.

- Marc D'Amico