Glenn Robinson III had just buried a 3-pointer to put the Detroit Pistons ahead 71-56 early in the third quarter. The Philadelphia 76ers were without their franchise star, Joel Embiid. Nobody could stop Blake Griffin or Andre Drummond in the post. A Sixers win seemed unlikely at that point. But then, another Sixers star, Jimmy Butler, did star-caliber things and along with Ben Simmons, helped rally Philadelphia to a 117-111 road victory.
With an 18-point, 14-rebound, 6-assist, 1-steal outing, Simmons was tremendous in his own right. Butler was the main attraction, though, tallying 38 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals, and one block.
Butler consistently found his spots, operating via pick-and-rolls and the mid-post, and carved out a home on the foul line, going 11-for-12 at the charity stripe.
Butler saves the possession and then finds the edge on Zaza. In order to negate Zaza's size advantage, Butler slows down, snakes in front of him and gets the and-1. He's really good at initiating contact and uses his body well to draw fouls. pic.twitter.com/XOZRyO9hyl— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 8, 2018
Some post work from Butler. Detroit had the momentum when he re-entered the game in the 4th but this bucket was a sign of things to come. He catches Langston Galloway leaning in after the shot fake, absorbs the contact and banks it off the glass. pic.twitter.com/KiWjLOQicv— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 8, 2018
On the other end of the floor, Butler was an omnipresent help defender. His entire demeanor shifted in the second half, as he appeared hell-bent on containing Griffin and Drummond down low.
Detroit feasted on Drummond and Griffin post-ups in the first half so Butler was an omnipresent help defender in the second half. Once Drummond starts to carve out deep position, Butler races into action and nabs a steal just as Drummond spins around. pic.twitter.com/gdVZ9S15q4— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 8, 2018
Already tweeted this out but watch Butler the whole time. He never leaves help position, even switching off the ball w/Simmons. He stays on the backside to dissuade an entry pass, retreats to his man, creeps back in the lane and rotates over to block Griffin's shot. pic.twitter.com/7eyskdFVOT— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 8, 2018
On the ball, Butler was swarming and feisty, causing trouble against any assignment. Given his responsibilities on both ends, it was one of the more impressive two-way showings in the NBA this year.
Butler absolutely hounded Griffin on this possession. He wasn't even a help defender for a stretch late in the game, just took Griffin on as a primary assignment. He gets right in Griffin's airspace, slides over the screen and pokes out the ball from behind. pic.twitter.com/MHUWZX1rG9— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 8, 2018
The production we saw from Butler Friday night is hard to replicate and why Philadelphia felt he was a necessary player to acquire. For an even more in-depth look at his night, check out my full Twitter moment.