Bulls' Jimmy Butler cites critical need for renewed effort on defense

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler admitted after the Chicago Bulls' 94-88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday night that he believes he has been focused too much on offense and not enough on defense.

The Bulls still lead the series 3-2, but after dropping two straight games, the group's confidence has taken a hit. Butler acknowledged that as a leader of this team, he has tried to speak to teammates in order to get the group back on the same page.

"I have," Butler said. "I'll stay on us about it. I'm supposed to be the prime-time defensive guy, and I haven't been guarding a soul. I've been worried about offense too much, and I need to change that quickly or it's going to be my fault."

Butler almost racked up a triple-double in Monday's loss with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, but he was just 5-for-21 from the field in 46 minutes of play.

Butler is averaging 44.2 minutes a game in this series and was upset with the way his team competed throughout the night.

"I think they just played harder than we did," Butler said. "On both ends of the floor. End of story. They played harder than we did."

That seemed to be a prevailing thought from within the Bulls' locker room.

"I definitely think, I don't know if we were comfortable or confident or overlooking them already, I just think we didn't play enough with a sense or urgency and desire," Bulls big man Pau Gasol said. "Which you need to do when you need to close out a team when you have them in that position.

"So, we're going to have to do better, play the next game like it's our last game. don't think about, 'Oh, if we lose this one we still have a chance because we can play at home for Game 7.' That would be a terrible mistake. That's why I see it's a challenge, a opportunity to grow individually and collectively, and let's see what we're made of."

Despite the lack of cohesion the Bulls have shown at times throughout the season, especially in the past two games, Butler remains outwardly confident that he and his teammates will be able to cure what ails them before it is too late.

"I'm not concerned," Butler said. "We're confident. We're a good team. I think we're going to show it in the next game. We continue to say it and we haven't done it, but I'm confident that we will."

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