Jimmy Butler delivered in a big way for the 76ers.
The superstar put up 30 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to lead Philadelphia past the Raptors 94-89, leveling their playoff series at 1-1. It was the franchise’s first win in Toronto since 2012.
“Everybody wants to paint a picture that we haven’t won here in however many years,” Butler told reporters after the game. “I’m just glad that we came out on top. We don’t care how many games we’ve lost.”
And although he isn’t widely regarded as a superstar around the league, Butler is deserving of the moniker.
He was one of just nine players to put up at least 18 points, five rebounds and four assists per game this season while shooting at least 46 percent from the floor and 34 percent from 3-point range. Some other players on that list: Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant.
As for Butler’s heroics last night, he scored seven points in a crucial 1:15 stretch in a tight game to help the 76ers maintain their edge and came through with a clutch assist to Joel Embiid to put Philadelphia up 3 with 24.3 seconds left in the game. In the fourth quarter alone, Butler recorded 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting to go along with three assists and two rebounds.
“Everybody told me to come out aggressive, shoot the shots that are there,” said Butler. “I just happened to make a couple of shots.”
This is a positive development for the 76ers, who acquired Butler from the Timberwolves in November. Despite leading the T-Wolves to the playoffs the prior season, Butler felt that Minnesota wasn’t appreciative of his services and requested a trade. Philadelphia saw the opportunity to land a star for a bargain price, even if Butler was potentially a one-season rental.
But after exploding for 36 points in Philadelphia’s first playoff game, a loss to the Nets, Butler had struggled during the past five contests. Here were his averages before Monday night’s dominant performance.
|Jimmy Butler’s Playoff Splits||Points||FG %||3-point %||Assists||Rebounds|
|Game 2 vs. Brooklyn through Game 1 vs. Toronto (5 games)||10.6||42.0||18.2||5.6||3.6|
Considering that Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons went a combined 8-for-24 from the floor in Game 2, Butler’s contributions became that much more valuable. Facing a potential 2-0 deficit against a Raptors squad far superior to the Nets, Butler’s fourth quarter was perfect timing for him and the team.
“Going home, we just need to do the same thing we did tonight,” Butler remarked.
If Butler delivers in Game 3 like he did last night, Philadelphia could find itself playing meaningful basketball in June — an opportunity that a superstar like Butler was brought in specifically for.