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About Last Night | Welcome Back, Jimmy Butler
The Wolves beat the Nets 111-97 on Saturday night at Target Center. It marked the 10th-straight win for Minnesota at home, which is impressive. We wrote about that here.
It also marked the return of Jimmy Butler for the Wolves. Butler missed the previous four games with a knee injury. The held tight and were 2-2 without Butler, but obviously you’re better with Jimmy Butler than without. Analytics tell us that.
Butler revealed his game status early on Saturday in the comment section on Instagram because it’s 2018 and that seems to make perfect sense.
Within the first two minutes of the game, Butler looked like the same Butler we’ve seen all season.
Butler finished the game with 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. He was a bit rusty from the field, shooting just 4-for-14, but he put pressure on the defense, getting to the free-throw line 14 times and sinking 12.
He also puts pressure on the defense with his passing ability, which is probably the most underrated part of Butler’s game.
Taj Gibson, always be ready.
Over the last two seasons, Butler is one of seven players to averaged 20+ points, 5+ assists and 5+rebounds per game. The others are James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin. Butler’s 21 win shares of that stretch is second to only Harden.
“The intensity is so much different (with Butler back),” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “I thought first game back, made a lot of plays. When the game was in the balance he made big play after big play.”
It will be interesting to see how Butler’s knee feels after Saturday’s game. The Wolves have Sunday off before travelling to take on the Hawks in Atlanta on Monday, followed by the Raptors in Toronto on Tuesday.