In an Eastern Conference Semifinals series that most people didn’t see coming, the No. 5 New York Knicks will go up against the No. 8 Miami Heat. 1990s basketball is back in style!
New York advancing past Cleveland in the first round wasn’t a surprise, but what was a surprise was that the Cavaliers won only one game. After an embarrassing Game 2 performance, the Knicks won Games 3-5 to close the series. What was surprising, though, was that the Bucks won only one game in their first-round series against the Heat. Jimmy Butler turns into a different player in the playoffs and his latest victim just so happened to be Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee.
Tom Thibodeau knows a thing or two about Butler considering that he coached him in Chicago and Minnesota. Butler knows a thing or two about Thibodeau, too. After Miami’s Game 5 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday, Butler was asked about facing Thibs (subscription required) in the playoffs. With a straight face, Butler said: “I’m not worried about Thibs.” He wasn’t joking, but that’s what makes it funny.
Jimmy Butler “not worried” about facing Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau in playoffs
It was nine years ago that Jimmy Butler was reportedly “unhappy” with the way that Tom Thibodeau used him in the Bulls’ first round of the playoffs against the Wizards. Then in 2017 when Minnesota traded for Butler, the duo was together again. With the Timberwolves, there was the drama about Butler’s trade request that he reportedly conveyed to Thibodeau before the start of the 2018-19 season.
Butler and Thibodeau have a long history together, but the times that they shared weren’t exactly always good. The 33-year-old may not be worried about going up against a Thibodeau-led team in the semifinals, but Thibs’ knowledge of Butler will play in the Knicks’ favor as will the team’s depth and homecourt advantage.
The series will start on Sunday with another afternoon playoff game at the Garden. The Knicks are the favorites to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, but if there’s one thing that fans can take away from the first round, it’s that anything can happen.