Two-time NBA All-Star Caron Butler didn’t have the playoffs on his mind a couple of months ago, but now with the postseason underway, he has eyes on his second championship ring.
“A lot of things have changed. My mentality has never changed, but now there are goals in my reach that I’m looking to achieve,” said Butler. “I’m rejuvenated and I’m really excited about the run we could possibly make.”
The Thunder are currently tied at one game a piece with the Memphis Grizzlies after losing Game 2 in overtime on Monday night. With the series headed to Memphis, Butler expects the competitiveness between the Thunder and Grizzlies to continue.
“That’s a tough group of guys on the Grizzlies, but right now they’re in our way,” said Butler. “This is a physical series, and we have to be up to the challenge night after night.”
While young stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have carried the load offensively, Butler came up with one of the biggest plays of their Game 1 victory. Butler darted through the lane and put home a powerful dunk early in the fourth quarter that ignited the crowd and sparked a 17-6 run that put the game out of reach.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and make a play for my team,” said Butler. “They closed out hard on me, and I just wanted to take advantage and take the ball to the hole. It turned out to be a big play.”
Butler has been valuable since being acquired in March, providing an offensive spark and his signature toughness off the bench. He has been especially lethal from the 3-point line, shooting 44 percent from there since joining the Thunder.
“I’m always ready for any big shot I need to take. That’s just something I’ve developed throughout my career,” said Butler. “I pose a threat and clear space on the court for other guys. I understand my role and I’m willing to accept it.”
The Thunder return to the floor Thursday in Memphis (8 p.m. ET on TNT) as both teams look to take control of the series in Game 3.
“We know we have a tough test in front of us, but every round will be like that,” said Butler. “We just have to take it game by game and take nothing for granted.”