After departing from the Bulls, it took Jimmy Butler a while to acclimate in Minnesota, but the veteran star is now in mid-season form with the Timberwolves.
Butler started a bit slow for his old coach Tom Thibodeau, scoring in the teens in October (16) and November (18), but he has since stepped it up and has led the Timberwolves to the fourth-best record in the Western Conference.
In a showdown with his old Eastern Conference nemesis LeBron James and the Cavs on Monday, Butler absolutely undressed The King.
Butler went for 21 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in a 127-99 victory over the Cavs. James had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. But here’s the more telling stat: Butler finished with a +39 plus-minus rating; James was -39 in the same 27 minutes on the floor.
Before the game, Butler said: “It’s like I always say, if you’re one of the best in the world, and you can score 50 or do this and do that, I’m a fan. But I’ve got to see it firsthand. You’ve got to do it to me.”
Not only were the Cavs outscored by 39 points while James was on the floor — the worst of his career — but the loss marked the seventh consecutive time he has fallen to Butler. Overall, Butler is 12-5 in his career against James.
In addition, the Butler-less Timberwolves broke a 0-6 drought against LeBron.
Thibs said this about Butler:“What he’s doing every night, it’s amazing. But it’s also bringing the best out of everyone on the team, and, to me, that’s the true mark of greatness. It’s not only bringing the best out of yourself, but it’s bringing the best out of everyone. I think he’s playing at an unbelievable level.”