MINNEAPOLIS – Jimmy Butler bluntly says that nobody cares if he is "hurt", a term he picked up from coach Tom Thibodeau to downplay the importance of injury. Butler does not complain, just as if he knows that sympathy is not available during the NBA playoffs.
It does not matter if it is less than two months away from surgery to repair the meniscus in the right knee. Or that he's having a sore knee joint, an injury he does not want to acknowledge, but the league sources say he suffered during his 31-point performance in the Minnesota Timberwolves home win or home final. And Butler pretends that his left ankle did not happen in the first half of the third game on Match 3.
The Timberwolves swapped for Butler and unified him with Thibodeau because they had waited too long for the playoff success. They planned to partner him with the thriving superstar Big Man Karl-Anthony Towns to form the foundation of an instant winner.
But Butler and Cities No-showed in the Timberwolves the first two playoff games since Kevin Garnett, when Minnesota dropped in a 0-2 hole to top seed Houston Rockets
Better late than never.
The two All-Stars of the Timberwolves finally came to Game 3, and suddenly it's a series after Minnesota's 1
"I can tell you that I'm tired in the last few days of my teammates Butler said after his 28-point, seven-rebound, five-assist performance in the Timberwolves first playoff win since Game 5 of the Western Conference 2004. "So I have It's up to me to do just that. "
Butler set the tone for the Timber Wolves and came into attack mode, a stark contrast to his uncharacteristically passive game, while scoring a total of only 17 in his first two games of the series. He had 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting at the end of the first quarter on Saturday – almost matching his average of 12 points in the two games in Houston – fire in a native crowd that came up hoping in the wake
"He is the heart and soul, "said Timberwolves Point Guard Jeff Teague, who had 23 points and eight assists and waged his opponent Chris Paul.
Jimmy Butler breaks down as the Timber Wolves beat the Rockets in Game 3 and what the veteran core means to the team.
It took Towns, the primary focus The Rockets defensive scheme all series, even longer, to finally feel its presence in the series, Houston continued his double cities almost every time he touched the ball in the color, a strategy that the 22-year-old in his first Here's how ridiculously rare it was: It had not happened to a player who had averaged over 20 points per game in the regular season since 1979.
Towns has not even got a shot on Saturday tried until the 10:46 mark second quarter when he issued a primal roar after dipping over rocket center Clint Capela Towns got its first real groove of the postseason in the third quarter and scored ac ht points, which corresponded to his better game in Houston.
"I let the game come to me instead of rushing and finding shots," the city said. "And then I find shots."
It was not that Towns, which ended with 18 out of 5 out of 13 shoots, was spectacular; That is still one night for his circumstances. But he was an offensive factor, a novelty for him in the playoffs, in addition to 16 rebounds and two shots.
"His activity was terrific," said Thibodeau, which was the opposite of his public opinion of Towns. "The first two playoff exits
James Harden and Chris Paul share their anger about a question of their defense strategy.
It's not that Butler and Towns did not get much help. But the help was not the problem.
Andrew Wiggins, the distant third member of Minnesota's Big Three, was the best player of the Timberwolves in the series. He was well again in Game 3, scoring 20 efficient points (7 out of 11 shooting) and picking up five rebounds and five assists.
Derrick Rose, the injury-prone former league MVP who rejoined Thibodeau as a shipwreck in hopes of reviving his career, is making his old coach wise by providing offensive strikes from the bench in the playoffs. He had 17 points in 21 minutes on Saturday.
And Teague was terrific, injuring Houston with his perimeter shooting and penetration. The Rockets seemed to be on the verge of a serious rally after reducing the deficit from 19 to nine points when Teague made the biggest game of the game, a 1-floater 6:29. Butler followed suit with a 3, then pulled out MVP leader James Harden and fed Teague for another 3, and the defeat was back on.
"They played with a bit more feeling than we did, a bit tougher," Rocket coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni said. "Especially in big moments, they came up with a stop, a score or so, we did not fight enough to overcome the amount and the emotions they had, give them their money, but we have to get a little better and harder play." ,
Karl-Anthony Towns looks to the crowd to search for James Harden's air balls in Game 3.
D & # 39; Antoni vows the Rockets who have not found her normal offensive rhythm even in this series would make some adjustments after an awkward defensive performance: the Timberwolves shot 50 percent off the ground and were 15 out of 27 out of 3-point range, as many 3s as the Rockets in 14 fewer tries.
But D & # 39; Antoni also warned that the Rockets would return to Houston The series would be deadlocked if it did not match the intensity of the Timberwolves in Monday's Match 4. That would guarantee a Game 6 at the finish center, where Timberwolves fans hope Getting used again to seeing playoff basketball.
City, "said Butler," deserves to be a little bit longer in the playoffs. "
For this to happen, the All-Stars of the Timberwolves must again take over their part.