NBA Teams
Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer 22d

Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler (infection) expects to play Friday vs. Thunder

NBA, Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jimmy Butler will play Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder after missing the past two games because of an upper respiratory infection.

"I'm all right," Butler said after participating in Friday's shootaround. "A lot of boogers in my nose, some mucus, I'll be OK."

Butler, who is averaging almost 38 minutes a game so far this season, does not expect to have a minutes restriction once the game begins.

"Have I ever been one to say I want a minute restriction? No," he said. "I'm here to play, I'm here to compete, I'm here to win. Ya'll see snot rolling down my nose and my face into my mouth, it's disgusting, but it might happen a few times. But I'll just get a towel and wipe it away."

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau will be watching the 28-year-old closely as he returns from the two-game absence. Butler sounded like he was still getting over the infection.

"I've never really seen him miss a game in all my years being with him," Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson said. "For him to be out those last two he really had to go through a lot. It was good to have him back out there in the lineup with us going through plays."

After his team gave up a combined 252 points over the past two losses, Thibodeau is hopeful that Butler's presence will give his group a defensive boost.

"We just got to bring energy," Thibodeau said. "All the little things matter. Every fundamental matters. We touched on just about everything."

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