WASHINGTON -- Jimmy Butler is tired.
After being a league leader in minutes throughout the season, and playing 53 minutes in a Game 2 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards, the Chicago Bulls swingman admits that he is feeling a little fatigued heading into Game 3.
"I do," he said after Friday's shootaround. "I'm not going to lie about that. But that's only a mental state," he said. "Once you hit a certain point, it's just like you can't get more tired than this."
Butler has played the role of iron man for the Bulls since Luol Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it's a role that he embraces. But it's clear that the minutes have started to catch up with him. Butler isn't complaining about the extra time, joking that he doesn't need a breather, but he's not running from the fact that he would rather be in this situation than not playing at all.
"I wanted to play," Butler said. "Whenever I wasn't playing as a first-year vet I always told [coach Tom Thibodeau] that I want to play. Hell, now I'm playing the whole game so I can't say too much about that."
Thibodeau is confident that Butler can still be productive despite the minutes piling up.
"He's done a good job," Thibodeau said. "He's playing a lot of minutes, got a tough assignment. The thing about Jimmy is he doesn't get discouraged. He'll keep fighting. He has to guard everyone, he has to play-make. We ask him to do a lot. I don't judge him on his scoring. I judge him on his contributions to winning. He's done a lot for our team."
Wizards guard Bradley Beal can see the fatigue setting in for Butler late in games.
"He plays like 48 minutes a game -- he plays the whole game," Beal said. "So I know there's times where he's going to get tired, so I try to use that to my advantage. And I just keep running and try to get him tired on the other end. And hopefully, he won't be as aggressive on offense, and I think he definitely exerts a lot of energy on defense."
Butler, who is averaging 10.5 points on 38.1 percent shooting in the series, admitted there are times that he gets so locked into his defensive assignment that he doesn't focus as much as he needs to on the offensive end.
"I think that happens at times," he said. "I get so caught with not trying to let my guy score that I forget to be an offensive player at times, which can't happen. And we've talked about it so it won't happen."