Jimmy Butler Is Embracing Sunday’s Loss Heading Into Game 5
The Philadelphia 76ers Game 5 matchup on the road in Toronto happens to be perhaps the most important game for the franchise in quite some time. Fortunately, the Sixers seem to be up to the challenge when they are being doubted the most. The Eastern Conference Semi-Finals tipped off a little over a week ago up North, and the Sixers took a beatdown by a red-hot Raptors team, who was shooting lights out.
Naturally, the "Sixers are getting swept" talks came out, and Philly needed to come back with a nice one, two punch. So the Sixers stole the following game on the road and opened up their home stint at the Wells Fargo Center by destroying the Raptors in Game 3. When the Sixers were told those two games could be the most important games for the franchise since the early 2000s, they stepped up to the challenge and came out on top.
Unfortunately, the Sixers didn't capitalize on a grand opportunity. Instead of heading back to Toronto with a 3-1 series lead, the Sixers came out and played sluggish this past Sunday and took a loss as the series evens back up to 2-2. Just like that, the Sixers went from being the sudden favorites to win, to being the underdogs once again. Will the Sixers be able to bounce back and manhandle the pressure? Jimmy Butler likes the odds.
"I think we've got a really good shot," Butler told the media on Tuesday afternoon after he completed his morning shootaround. Although Joel Embiid didn't participate in the pregame practice, the All-Star center is expected to play despite his sickness that he's currently trying to overcome. There's no guarantee that Embiid will come out and put up a 30-plus point effort as we've seen him do plenty of times this season - but if Jimmy Butler can get at least one or two other guys leading the pack with him, Philly could be in good shape to come away with a win on the road.
As the Sixers' front-running veteran leader wrapped up an extended solo shootaround on Tuesday, he couldn't help but embrace the tough grind this series has brought. Everybody recognizes Butler as a true hard worker who embodies the 'Philly Guy' type, as Brett Brown put it. So you know any doubt that creeps into his mind is just used as a motivational tool for himself moving forward.
"We’re fine, I think we perform better when our backs are against the wall anyways," Butler told The Philadelphia Inquirer's, Keith Pompey. He isn't exactly wrong. In the last series, the Sixers took a beating by the Brooklyn Nets during Game 1, and they ended up answering that defeat with a four-game rally, knocking Brooklyn out.
Two guys who were specifically doubted during that series was Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris, who ended up putting up some vital performances to help during that series. While those two guys are a bit quiet during this current series against the Raptors, it's hard not to believe they aren't going to give their best shot on Tuesday night as they recognize the current do-or-die situation. Nerves are warranted for Game 5, but Butler is embracing the struggle that's coming with being tied up and on the road.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_