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Adversity nothing new to Butler and Bulls
by Adam Fluck
Posted on Apr 21
When the 2013 NBA Playoffs began, Bulls forward Jimmy Butler had a mere four minutes of postseason experience under his belt.
That changed dramatically on Saturday during Game 1 in Brooklyn when Butler started and played 39 minutes, recording 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The Bulls, however, suffered a 106-89 loss which saw them trailing by 25 at the half. It’s a game that Butler and his teammates will be happy to learn from, and then promptly forget about.
“Game 1, it’s over with,” said Butler on Sunday as to how he’s processing the loss. “It’s a long series. We’ll learn from it and go on to the next one on Monday and try to get a win. We came here to get one and we definitely have to do that.”
Given the amount of injuries Chicago has suffered this season, facing a challenge is nothing new to this Bulls team. Butler believes that because the Bulls have played short-handed on so many occasions, it prepares them to be able to bounce back in Game 2.
“I think so, but I don’t think that’s an excuse or anything,” said Butler. “We’ve been going against adversity all season and for that reason, we’re used to it. There could be a lot of excuses as to why we lost this last game, but the main reason is that they played harder than we did. We didn’t guard and they got whatever they wanted on both ends of the floor.”
Adjustments are often crucial in the postseason and Butler said there are several that can be made by the Bulls as they look to even their best of seven series against the Nets.
“We can get better in a lot of areas,” said Butler. “On offense, we can get the ball moving quicker. On defense, be in the right position to help. And ball pressure, we need to be the aggressor on both ends of the floor.”
Butler, who along with Nate Robinson played every game during the 2012-13 season, admits he’s come a long way from playing so sparingly in last season’s first round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. He was also glad to get Saturday’s Game 1, the first in which he played such a significant role during the playoffs, out of the way.
“It was nerve racking at first,” said Butler. “But you get used to it and it becomes second nature, what you’ve been doing all your life. I always feel like I can do more. So I have to do more on both ends of the floor the next game. It’s a learning curve and I’ve learned. Now it’s time to go out there and produce.”
That’s certainly something Butler proved he could do in the regular season. Though his opportunities off the bench were inconsistent at the start of the year, injuries afforded him a chance to crack the starting lineup in mid-January. It was a situation he took full advantage of, averaging 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.80 steals in 20 regular season starts.
Though Butler admits his remarkable progress is not lost on him, he’s more focused on the task at hand right now.
“It has [sunk in], but I don’t really think about that,” said Butler. “It’s a long season and we want to make it longer. No matter how far I have come, I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to think about what a great season it was for you; I want to keep playing as many games as possible in these playoffs.”