- Alex Menendez/Getty Images
- The Philadelphia 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler in early November in a move that showed the team was looking to win now.
- Philadelphia’s investment is paying off well so far, as Butler has hit two nearly identical game-winning shots over the span of eight days.
- Butler’s clutch shooting extends beyond the game’s final moments – his command and confidence in the entirety of the fourth quarter are where he’s proven his worth for the Sixers.
It has been only two weeks since Jimmy Butler was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Philadelphia 76ers, but Butler has already shown that the Sixers made the right move.
In his third game with the team, Butler hit a last-second three-pointer to give Philadelphia a 122-119 win over the Hornets in Charlotte. On Sunday, just eight days later, Butler did it again, hitting a huge triple with just 0.4 seconds left to complete Philadelphia’s fourth-quarter comeback and take down the Brooklyn Nets.
Taking a look at the shots side-by-side, both three-pointers are eerily similar, with Butler taking the ball to the same spot, creating space with a jab step, and hitting his release in near-perfect rhythm with his other self.
Two game-winners in 8 days for Jimmy Butler.
EXACT. SAME. SPOT. ???? pic.twitter.com/osRUKoIKrt
— ESPN (@espn) November 26, 2018
You could argue that in single-handedly making two game-deciding plays in a little over a week, Butler had already proven his worth to the 76ers, but his contributions go far beyond the final possession.
Before Butler, the 76ers were talented but consistently struggled in the fourth quarter, when the team’s lack of shooting and most noticeably, Ben Simmons refusal to pull up from outside 18 feet, left Philadelphia a bit short in the clutch.
According to the NBA’s “Clutch” statistics, which break down how teams play with five minutes or less left in a game within five points, the Sixers had a negative team plus/minus before Butler’s arrival, placing them 15th in the NBA. That was not a total disaster, but certainly far from where you hope to be when planning to compete for the Eastern Conference title.
Since joining the Sixers, Butler has shot 56% from the field in the fourth quarter, and more importantly, has shown a desire and ability to take over games that were lacking from Philadelphia, especially if Embiid was struggling on a given night. On Sunday, Butler’s 18-point fourth quarter came thanks to 7-of-7 shooting, including four three-pointers, that allowed the Sixers to mount a huge comeback that would have been impossible without him.
The Sixers trade for Butler sent a clear statement to the rest of the league – Philadelphia is looking to win, and win now. While there’s still plenty of games left to play out, the early returns on the 76ers investment are looking pretty good.