Wolves need 'Buckets' to live up to his nickname
MINNEAPOLIS-Jimmy Butler was a tactician on one half of the floor on Wednesday night, holding James Harden to 2-for-9 shooting as the primary defender on the soon-to-be NBA Most Valuable Player.After the game, Butler claimed Harden "just missed" ...
MINNEAPOLIS-Jimmy Butler was a tactician on one half of the floor on Wednesday night, holding James Harden to 2-for-9 shooting as the primary defender on the soon-to-be NBA Most Valuable Player.
After the game, Butler claimed Harden "just missed" shots, but Butler made Harden's life difficult. His contributions have played a large role in Houston's inability to really get cooking offensively through two games in the best-of-seven playoff series that moves to Target Center for Game 3 on Saturday.
Still, as great as he was defensively, Butler has yet to make his mark on the other side of the floor in this series, where Minnesota equally needs him at the moment. The All-NBA guard scored just 11 points on six shots in Wednesday's 102-82 loss in Game 2. In a 104-101 loss in Game 1, Butler took just 11 shots.
"What do you want me to do, go out there and jack up 30 shots?" Butler asked when questioned Tuesday about the lack of offensive output. "If I've got good looks, I'll take them. If not, I'll find my teammates. My job is to win, not go out there and try to score X amount of points."
The Rockets are doing their part to limit Butler's offensive impact, blitzing him with two defenders at every opportunity. But Minnesota has to find a way to get its best player the ball in a position where he can score, and Butler has to make a point to be as aggressive as possible.
After averaging 22.2 points a game during the regular season, Butler is scoring 12 a game in the two playoff games. That's not enough in a series where the Wolves are already severely outgunned in offensive firepower, particularly with Karl-Anthony Towns unable to find any sort of rhythm.
"Maybe I do gotta be a little bit more aggressive, assertive," Butler said. "I just always try to take what the game gives me. If I'm open, shoot or try to get the ball to somebody that's open, put them in position to get an easy basket. I'm never worried about offense. I just think I've got to continue to lock in on the defensive end."
Jeff Teague noted that Butler has played only five games since his return from a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Butler is still on a "minutes guideline," according to Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau, and appears to be playing through an injured wrist that has been taped up during each of the first two games of the series.
Offense hasn't been much of a concern this season for Minnesota, which sported one of the league's most efficient offenses during the regular season. But after scoring just 82 points and struggling for every basket Wednesday, now seems like a good time for the man nicknamed "Jimmy Buckets" to join the offensive party.
"He's just got to get his feet under him," Teague said. "I'm sure he's going to be a lot more aggressive at home, and we need that."