The Sixers traded Robert Covington and Dario Saric, two beloved Philly favorites with prominent roles, for Jimmy Butler to prove that they were ready to win right now. It was time to speed up The Process. And in just his third game with the team, he showed what management was talking about.
Butler had an up-and-down game in which he failed to help contain Kemba Walker, who went off for 60 points. But in the final 20 seconds of overtime, he took over. He may have off nights like this one, but when the game is within his grasp, Butler’s established himself as a star unafraid to save the day.
Here’s the two plays Butler made to beat the Hornets, 122-119, that few others in the league can make, especially in succession.
1. Butler saved the day on defense
The first incredible play from Butler saw the two-time All-Defense First Team player block Walker’s attempt at the rim, catch the rebound and throw it behind his head as he fell out of bounds. The guts to leap for a swat coupled with the vision to save the rebound were vintage Butler.
Had Walker sunk the shot — or had Butler beemn whistled for a foul — this could’ve been the game.
2. Butler wins at the buzzer
After a sloppy end of the fourth quarter and overtime for both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, it was Butler who took control of the final possession of the game. (He’d done the same in regulation but clanked a deep-two off the back of the rim.) But Butler is fearless, he sees past the misses.
With just .3 seconds to spare, he stepped back and drained a game-winning three on Dwayne Bacon’s grill. That’s a shot few can make especially considering the stakes.
Jimmy Butler’s the type of superstar unafraid to come up big in the clutch, and the only ball-handler Philly has who can pull up at the buzzer.
The Sixers are really loving the Butler addition, and that’s important
With the game on the line, J.J. Redick, the team’s best veteran, baited Butler into taking the final shot. “I bet you won’t call game on them,” Redick said, according to Butler.
That type of camaraderie isn’t always felt so soon, and Butler’s rep is stained. So that line alone is important.
Adding another superstar into the mix is never easy, but so far, so good for the Sixers. Philadelphia’s coming together.