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Jimmy Butler trade paying big dividends for 76ers

Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles past

Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles past Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Sun. Nov. 25, 2018. Credit: Errol Anderson

The 76ers are just seven games into their Jimmy Butler era, but it appears the trade with Minnesota that brought a veteran All-Star to a team with young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons just might shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.

Butler hit his second game-winning shot for the 76ers in their 127-125 victory over the Nets on Sunday night at Barclays Center.  He scored 18 of his 34 points and shot 7-for-7 in the fourth quarter.

The game-winner was a right-wing three-pointer over the outstretched hand of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with four-tenths of a second left.

“Another play drawn up by Coach,” Butler said of Brett Brown. “My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to take shots late. I got to the spot I wanted to get to, raised up and knocked it down.”

Before the game, Brown said he barely has scratched the surface in terms of figuring out how best to use Butler’s multi-faceted talents as a volume scorer and top defender.

“That is the holy grail for me,” Brown said. “After however many games we’ve had with Jimmy, it’s at that still uncertain stage.”

Some wondered when the trade was made how a veteran with a reputation as a disruptive force might impact a young team like the 76ers.

“I respect how he’s tried to integrate himself into our team,” Brown said. “He’s not force-feeding anything, not his offensive game, not his defensive game and not his personality. He’s trying to integrate himself into our program and culture with a level of humility and respect for what’s been going on and figure his way out slowly.

“Once that environment isn’t as important to him and he starts feeling good and comfortable and putting his own thumbprint on our culture and his own thumbprint on our offense and defense, then we’ll begin to see precisely, exactly why he’s an NBA All-Star.”

New York Sports