Jimmy Butler gives Sixers game-changing edge in crunch time vs. Hornets

Jimmy Butler has only played three games with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he has already shown why he brings another layer of offense to this team.

Butler hit a game-winning 3-pointer with under three seconds left in overtime Saturday against the Charlotte Hornets on the road to go up 3-0 in the season series.

Though Butler struggled offensively to begin the game, he started to find his shot in the fourth quarter and overtime. He scored 15 points total, but nine of his points came in the fourth and overtime. He played off Ben Simmons well in the fourth quarter, as he and Simmons combined for 14 of the Sixers’ 28 points in the frame. Butler and Simmons also combined for four assists in the quarter.

Not only did Butler score, but he made important plays on defense as well – especially in overtime against Hornets guard Kemba Walker. Charlotte’s star scored a league-high 60 points, and Butler defended him for most of the game.

With the game tied at 119 and under 25 seconds left, the Hornets had the ball. Simmons had committed a turnover on the play before, as he attempted a lob to Joel Embiid in the post.

Walker had the ball in his hands, and he dribbled to the right against Butler. As Walker floated a shot up, Butler swatted it and then saved the ball from going out of bounds. On the next possession, Butler hit the shot to win the game.

What Butler brings to the Sixers is his ability to close games well. The All-Star guard is ranked No. 4 in the league for points scored in the fourth quarter (7.9). The Sixers having him as their closer helps in games like these, especially considering Embiid, the team’s leading scorer, had just six points in the second half and four in overtime.

And for nights where an opposing team’s best player is having a great game, Butler is there to make timely defensive plays. Still, no one could truly stop Walker Saturday, including Butler. With the Sixers picking up their second win of a back-to-back, they are now 2-1 following the blockbuster trade.

“I’m really proud of how we never doubted ourselves,” Butler said, per Kirk Bado of Sixers Wire.

Three games isn’t a huge sample size to measure Butler’s impact, but the team certainly does have an extra edge thanks to his ability to score, defend and be a playmaker.

The Sixers will head back home to the Wells Fargo Center to play the Phoenix Suns on Monday at 7 p.m. EST.

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