Jimmy Butler Not Surprised Giannis Didn't Guard Him in Bucks vs. Heat Game 1

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2020

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler (22) goes up for a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball conference semifinal playoff game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

On the heels of scoring a playoff career-high 40 points in the Miami Heat's 115-104 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday, Jimmy Butler wasn't surprised Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't get the one-on-one defensive assignment against him. 

Speaking to The Athletic's Sam Amick, Butler explained why he thinks the Bucks didn't make the move with Antetokounmpo during the game:

"He is one of the best help side defenders that there are in the league. And that's what he's been doing all year long. And I think you can't get stuck on what we do. I think you've really just got to focus on what you do – you've been doing it all year. Nah, I'm not surprised. If he switches out…and he's guarding me, you know we're going to do what we have to do to still win. But I'm gonna tell you: You're not going to be able to leave me, so then that's taking away their weakside defense. So either way it goes, we're gonna be in a good spot. We've got way more guys who can do what I just did last night better than I can do, so we'll see."

Following Monday's game, Antetokounmpo told reporters he didn't ask to defend Butler:

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo on whether he asked to switch onto Heat’s Jimmy Butler during late-game explosion: “To guard him? No, I didn’t. Why would you ask that? I’ll do whatever coach wants me to do.” https://t.co/IFpR5pk1s1

Antetokounmpo was recently named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2019-20 season. The Greek Freak helped the Bucks lead the league in defensive rating (102.9). 

Per Second Spectrum (h/t ESPN's Eric Woodyard), Antetokounmpo held opponents to a 36.3 shooting percentage when he was the closest defender during the regular season. 

Woodyward noted that's the lowest field-goal percentage allowed by an individual player since Second Spectrum began tracking data in 2013-14. 

After Milwaukee took a 96-95 lead with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Butler scored 15 of the Heat's final 20 points and went 6-of-6 from the field during that stretch.

The Bucks will attempt to slow Butler and even their series against the Heat on Wednesday night. Game 2 tips off at 6:30 p.m. ET.   


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