Jimmy Butler experience + LeBron, Lakers push Grizzlies short

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Is the NBA rooting for no games on NFL Draft Day 1?

My goodness, Jimmy

Butler has the Bucks in his sights

A lot of people have a reluctance to accept Jimmy Butler as a superstar in this league. If that’s you, I urge you to get over it. You are too late for this. Butler is a superstar, he is a winner. Last night, he showed that once again in the way he eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks. Let’s look at the context of his Miami Heat prior to the streak.

  • East’s no. The Atlanta Hawks dealt them their hands in the play-in tournament after about a year from the No. 1 seed.
  • It took a big fourth-quarter performance against the Chicago Bulls to clinch the No. 8 seed.

So, Butler put them up 3-1 in a series against the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks – a team that has wanted to win a championship for a while.

Butler set the Heat record for points in a playoff game in Miami’s 119-114 Game 4 win. The previous record was LeBron James’ 49 points against Brooklyn in 2014, but Butler scored 56 on Monday, tied for fourth in NBA history in single playoff game scoring. LeBron never did this. Dwyane Wade never did this.

Khris Middleton is fouled out. The Zuru holiday was very short. Giannis Antetokounmpo couldn’t handle Butler when he returned to the series. He chose all of them as if he were settling scores.

Giannis had 26 points and a triple-double. Brook Lopez scored 36 points. They were the only two Bucs to score more points in a game than Butler did in the fourth quarter (21).

The Bucks trailed 2-1 after Giannis missed two games and played just 11 minutes in the first. They’re on the brink of a rare No. 8 over No. 1 as Giannis and his team can’t figure out how to stop Butler’s dominance. Butler is one of the most calculated stars in the game. Every movement has a purpose. He said it best after the game:

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“I take the shots I know I can make. That’s the game for you.”

Latest news from Shams

Udoka to Houston; Fox update

Monday is a holiday for the court.

  • The Houston Rockets replaced Stephen Silas with former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka at the end of an extensive hiring process. Udoka, who was suspended by Boston shortly before the start of this season for violating team policies by having an inappropriate relationship with a staff member, was selected after a vetting process that uncovered the situation, I said. Their findings were convenient enough for the Rockets to select Udoka to lead their company, but we’ll hear more from them when Udoka is introduced based on what she went through with the process. In his lone season his Celtics went 51-31 and advanced to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Warriors. He may not have the same talent in Houston as he did in Boston early on, but he has proven that he knows how to win.
  • In Sacramento, the latest injury to a star player in these NBA playoffs has Kings guard De’Aaron Fox doubtful for Wednesday night’s crucial Game 5 against the Warriors. He broke the index finger on his left (shooting) hand and is believed to have suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Sunday. He went on to finish the game. Team sources said AthleticThat’s Sam Amick Insiders believe Fox will try to play on Wednesday, but the team’s medical staff is still in the process of figuring out what’s possible and what that might look like. Since it is his shooting hand, measures must be in place to protect the finger while allowing it to heal without affecting his shooting motion. That will certainly be difficult. It looks like another game-time decision to watch on Wednesday. Let’s get new things in athletics.

Back to you, Sake.

LeBron’s 20-20 vision

Lakers briefly push the grizzlies

It’s not pretty, but no one cares about winning playoff games in style points. Not even in Los Angeles. Thanks to a truly historic performance by LeBron James, the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead on the Grizzlies. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer had 22 points and 20 rebounds en route to the victory. The oldest player to break a 20-20 game in league history.

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And it came on a night when Anthony Davis was terrible and not exactly physical. He had just 12 points on 13 shots, an ill-timed and almost costly tribute to Dillon Brooks.

That slow night didn’t stop Davis from making an impact on the defensive end, as he blocked Za Morant’s game-winning shot attempt in regulation before LeBron casually knocked down a half-court shot after the buzzer. James took too many charges from Morant late, causing the Grizzlies’ star to hit the ground running.

LeBron and AD combined for nine of the Lakers’ 13 overtime points, and they are one game away from continuing their incredible turnaround in the second round.

In case you’re wondering about the Grizzlies’ psyche, Brooks and Morant both avoided talking to the media after the game.

Read Joe Vardon: The Grizzlies maturity problem extends beyond two players

Ask: Basketball Buds talks Dillon Brooks, Giannis and more

Success or void

Hawks, wolves, clippers in trouble

The Hawks, Wolves and Clippers are all staring the end of their season in the face. Atlanta will be without Dejounte Murray (suspended for Game 5), the Wolves will be without Kyle Anderson (eye injury) and we don’t know what’s going on with Kawhi Leonard’s injury (he’s listed out tonight).

Here’s the key thing every team needs to do to avoid elimination:

How do hawks keep their season alive? Hawks must play for their lives. Yes, the offense should be good, but they need to stop this Celtics offense. It is very difficult to do without Murray.

Prediction: The Celtics close it out. Game Time: 7:30 pm ET on TNT

How do wolves keep their season alive? Clone Anthony Edwards. He’s been alive over the past three games, shooting 50.0 percent from the field, 42.4 percent from deep and 86.2 percent from the field for 37 points per game. He is a superstar but their other stars are not built like him.

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Prediction: Claws cover it. Game Time: 9pm ET on NBA TV

How are the Clippers keeping their season alive? Hopefully the Suns’ starters can hold them in these heavy minutes by somehow getting Kawhi to play. Barring a miracle, the Clippers’ season is over.

Prediction: The sun covers it. Game Time: 10pm ET on TNT

If all three teams are eliminated tonight, we will have zero games on Thursday.

Awards SZN

Markkanen won Most Improved Player

Utah Jazz forward Larry Markkanen ran away with the Most Improved Player award It received 69 out of 100 first-place votes. OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished second and received 24 first-place votes.

The other seven first-place votes went to New York’s Jalen Brunson (four), Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges, Indiana’s Tyrese Halliburton and New Orleans’ Trey Murphy III.

Things changed in Markkanen’s up-and-down career once he was traded to Utah as part of the Donovan Mitchell deal. We saw Markkanen become an All-Star and an All-NBA player. He eclipsed his career highs in scoring (25.6) and true shooting (64.0 percent). He’s been a great pick for a Jazz team that’s been competing longer than we thought, and he’s the main reason why.

Markkanen is first on my official ballot, Gilgeous-Alexander second and Halliburton third.

Bounce passes

Why Draymond Green thought he wanted his voice back

Tim McMahon wrote about the fascinating way players build relationships with references.

Jay King and Dave Dufour look at Ime Udoka’s hiring in Houston.

Do the Cavs know who their fifth starter should be? Kelsey Russo investigates.

Kurt Streeter wrote about how the Kings finally showed the fans what saved Sacramento basketball.

How did things get worse in Toronto? Doug Smith takes us behind the scenes.

(Photo: Jim Rasol / USA TODAY)

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