Finally, we can talk about Jimmy Butler’s play on the court again. After over a month of speculation and talk over what the former Minnesota Timberwolves man might do or where he might go, we finally got to see him at his new team showing just why the Philadelphia 76ers had brought him in in the first place. On his home debut with them, Butler lit up the night, dropping 28 points on 12-15 for shooting from the field as they won 113-107 over the Utah Jazz. It’s easy to see why the Sixers have grown to be so dominant at home (they are 29-1 in their last 30 home games), and it has to do with their crowd, which spurred Butler and the team in a first quarter where they ran out with a 16-point lead. While they were driven back a little, they recovered from their wobble to win in the end, thanks to Butler and to Joel Embiid, who added 23 points of his own on the night. In a strange twist, the Jazz ended up seeing their star man, Donovan Mitchell shoot the ball 35 times and have no assists. He ended up with 31 points in the loss, but it led to Mitchell saying he has to be ‘smart’ and that it simply ‘can’t happen’ to him. It does look like a Kobe Bryant kind of night for him, and sometimes no matter how many points you score, you end up hindering your team as a whole.
In a preview of what could be the Eastern Conference Finals later on this season, the Boston Celtics played host to the Toronto Raptors. And the game did not disappoint as it went all the way to overtime before the Celtics won out 123-116 to give the Raptors their third straight loss. The win can be chalked up to brilliant play from Kyrie Irving. In regulation, he scored 17 points in the closing 8:06 of the fourth quarter to help get them to overtime, including scoring 11 in a row. But it was his showing in OT that has to be commended even more. In the overtime period, Irving made a telling contribution to every basket the Celtics scored, either scoring or assisting as they ended up pulling away comfortably as you can after reaching overtime. In total, Irving ended up scoring 43 points and dishing out 11 assists. The Raptors did get a good showing from star Kawhi Leonard, but his 31 points weren’t enough to give them the win and stop their slump. They only lost once in their first 13 games, but they have suddenly lost three in a row now. The Celtics meanwhile move a game closer to them and improved to a 5-1 mark at home.