What will Jimmy Butler do tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers? Nobody knows for sure, but “seek attention” is the safest bet.
As an additional motivating factor to pay extra close attention, we have this: LeBron James is not the star of the show tonight. The last time a sentence like that was written, the year was 1990-something.
This much we know: Butler took part in shootaround in Los Angeles despite his “general soreness.” Best guess as to the cure: Aspirin. Or water. And coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that Butler will be in uniform.
“When you have a guy who has missed the majority of training camp, you know there’s going to be soreness and things are going to creep up and you have to manage it,” Thibodeau said.
Soreness. Creeping up. Managing it.
Yep — the Timberwolves season in a nutshell.
The best guess as this column goes to press is that Butler will suit up for the Timberwolves but will wear one purple sneaker and one gold one. If that’s what it takes to push the envelope and piss off owner Glen Taylor, so be it. But Butler will probably outthink all of us on that one. Which is why it is nice to have ESPN.
Here are some of the main prop bets on tonight’s “epic tilt” between the 11th-best and 13th-best teams in the West:
The over/under on Butler’s points is the thing we all should focus on, because there may be a certain player wearing No. 23 on his uniform who does not like playing second fiddle to anyone, especially in his home. Odds are that LeBron is the guy defending Butler most of the time, and LeBron is sort of a good defender — something he does not often get enough credit for.
Butler has played in eight games, and except for an outlier performance in which he scored 4 points against Milwaukee, he has put at least 20 on the board in every game.
Perhaps a more interesting wager is the over/under on LeBron James’ points: 28.5.
He is averaging 26.8, so the oddsmakers are expecting him to perform for the cameras. And he’s pretty good at that.
James has been held below 10 only twice this season, topping out at 35 in a loss at San Antonio two Saturdays ago.
If the author of this article was setting the over/under, it would be 49.5 — and there might even be a tout on the over. Butler will be defending LeBron, and the last guy who was able to ice LeBron in a big nationally-televised game was the dude running the air conditioning in San Antonio during the 2014 Finals. #crampstrategy
You bet against LeBron at your own peril: That is the rule of thumb here, today and every day until LeBron moves on to his next team and plays alongside his son.
In the meantime, bet Duke.
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