The style of play in the NBA has changed considerably over the years, with the era of the back-to-the-basket big man long gone and the era of the 3-point jacking guard never more in style than it is today.
Rajon Rondo (broken thumb) isn’t expected to play in Game 5 Wednesday night (8 p.m., TNT, CSNNE), but Jimmy Butler will be there in full force. Butler has averaged 24.7 points per game in this series and is making alleged shutdown defenders Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley look mediocre. Butler’s battle with Smart has taken on added significance in the past few days with the players trading barbs.
“As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he’s a great actor,” Butler said. “Acting tough, that’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that, and I’m the wrong guy to get in my face … We’re not going to sit here and get in each other’s faces like that. Like I said, he’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down.”
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The Texas boys (Butler is from Houston, Smart from Dallas) stared each other down, nose-to-nose, in Game 4 and Smart was asked this week if he wanted to have another chat with the Bulls guard.
Smart will never be confused with Steph Curry offensively as he’s shot 6-for-16 from 3-point range in the series and is averaging just 8.5 points per game. But Bradley will be relied upon to help Isaiah Thomas out offensively.
Bradley has averaged 12.2 points per game in the series thus far, scoring just eight points in Sunday’s 104-95 Celtics win.
Thomas has been magnificent, averaging 25.5 points per game. A good chunk of his scoring has been done at the free throw stripe as he got to the line 12 times in Game 1, 13 times in Game 2 and 13 times in Game 4. Interestingly enough, he did not have one free throw attempt in the Celtics’ best game of the series – Game 3 - in which the Celtics won, 104-87.