When the Sixers made the trade for Jimmy Butler, there were plenty of question marks surrounding the four-time All-Star.
In Friday night’s thrilling 113-107 win over the Jazz at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations), the fans couldn’t have cared less about any of that.
Butler was sensational, scoring 28 points on an incredibly efficient 12 of 15 from the field in his first game in front of his new home crowd. After a somewhat tentative debut in Orlando, Butler was much more assertive Friday.
I came out gunning, I can tell you that. Coach [Brett] Brown called me last night and was like, ‘Hey, I remember one time you were in this building and you scored 50 … do that,’ and I was like, ‘OK.’ Then when we got in the little walkthrough this morning, he was like, ‘Remember what I told you? … do that.’ I came out a little more aggressive.
There were concerns over Butler’s fit on and off the court. He looked just fine on the court against Utah. Aside from the 28 points, he dished out seven assists and played outstanding on-the-ball defense against Donovan Mitchell, holding the second-year guard to 13 of 35 from the field.
The most impressive thing about Butler’s performance is that he did everything within the flow of the game and the offense. If anything, he could’ve been a little more aggressive — especially with Joel Embiid in foul trouble.
“I actually thought he could’ve, if he chose to, shot about seven or six more shots,” Brown said of Butler. “You know, we put him in some stuff and you could see, like he’s trying to walk that line of taking control and being proactive versus passing the ball and getting other people involved.”
There were rumors about locker-room issues in Butler’s two stops in Chicago and Minnesota. It’s obviously early in the process, but his teammates have said nothing but positive things about Butler so far.
There even appears to be a little bromance forming between Butler and JJ Redick. During his brief time as a Sixer, Butler has really gravitated toward the veteran guard. One thing we know is that Butler isn't afraid to speak his mind and the two have been communicating an awful lot already.
"I think everybody knows when I say something to you, it’s never personal and if you want to win, you’re going to take that criticism," Butler said. "Same thing with me, if somebody says something to me. JJ was like, ‘Hey, don’t do that,’ and I was like, ‘You’re probably right, it was my fault.’ But everybody wants to win, so we take it in stride."
So far, Butler has earned the accolades of his coach and teammates. He also earned chants of “Jim-my But-ler” after a deflection. He then promptly hit a three to send the crowd to a fever pitch in the first few minutes.
The scene was surreal.
🗣️JIM-MY BUT-LER.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 17, 2018
They're already getting chants in at Wells Fargo Center...and Butler nails a triple. pic.twitter.com/jkVsRC3L5C
He loves his new home court … and his new victory song.
“You can for sure hear them,” Butler said of the chants. “I’ve always said this that ya’ll — or we — have some great fans and it’s definitely an advantage. And then ya’ll have one of the catchiest things in the whole ‘1-2-3-4-5 Sixers’ deal. When I was the away team, I was always singing it, so it’s still stuck in my head.”
The more he hears that song, the fewer question marks there will be.
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