There are so many similarities between Jimmy Butler and Paul George. Both play incredibly hard on both sides of the ball despite their offensive workload. That combo is scarcer than NBA fans would care to admit. To be fair, it’s asking a lot of high-usage offensive players to then defend an opponent’s best player, too, but that’s exactly what catapults these two into the upper echelon of NBA wings. And this same two-way excellence transformed Monday night’s Bulls-Pacers game into an intriguing narrative — especially considering how it ended.
Both Jimmy and Paul play on the wing as either an oversized off-guard (Jimmy) or an incredibly long small forward (Paul). Both also started started out as exclusively 3&D henchman, who slowly morphed into all-around offensive dynamos, capable of running a high-pick-and-roll, or getting their own shot while isolated on the wing. So during Monday night’s 96-95 Bulls win, it made sense the final possession would come down to a mano-a-mano battle between the two.
Jimmy, a solid 6-foot-7, is still 2 inches shorter than PG-13. So when George swooped around to catch the ball on the near wing, and then drove into the paint with the clock nearing zero, we thought he’d at least be able to get a shot up on the rim when he jump stopped before launching a full-extended fadeaway.
Except, he didn’t fade enough, and Jimmy’s hand got enough of the ball to assuage any fear of a tear-dropper rustling the nylon.
Game over, Bulls win.
“Defense and effort, you really can’t strategize for that,” Jimmy said after the win, and you really can’t. It’s the intangible aspect of the game that forces lazy writers to use the word intangible (guilty on all counts).
While Derrick Rose will be the story after showing off some retro MVP magic on his way to a team-high 23 points before leaving in the fourth with a left ankle sprain, Jimmy’s defense and effort won the game.
(Via Chicago Tribune)