MIAMI, FL - MAY 06: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 6, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:32AM
MIAMI — After playing 48 minutes three games in a row, Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler planned to do three things to be ready to frustrate Miami Heat star LeBron James again in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday.
‘‘Rest, rest and more rest,’’ Butler said Tuesday. ‘‘Maybe sit outside in the sun instead of in your hotel room. But definitely stay off your feet.’’
Inside or outside, Butler is basking in the spotlight these days. After James accepted his fourth NBA most valuable player trophy Monday, Butler kept enough of a lid on ‘‘The King’’ to allow the Bulls to steal Game 1.
‘‘It definitely is [surreal],’’ said Butler, who was drafted 30th overall in 2011 out of Marquette. ‘‘This whole experience is. Being from a small town in Texas, nobody knowing or expecting me to be in this position — an NBA starter playing 48 minutes in a playoff game —
nobody ever thought that would happen in a million years. Hell, I didn’t believe it when I was in Tomball.’’
He believes it now. With defensive anchor Luol Deng sidelined, Butler has stepped up at both ends of the court. Not only did he hold James to 3-for-9 shooting in the first three quarters, but he also scored 21 points and grabbed 14
rebounds. And he never sat down.
‘‘He’s doing his job,’’ said coach Tom Thibodeau, who was unwilling to gush over his 48-minute man, knowing that’s something he’s likely to keep asking Butler to do. ‘‘We
expect him to be in shape. He’s played a lot and done a good job. With Lu being out, we’re a little short-handed, so he has to play more now.’’
While understating the significance of playing 48 minutes game after game, Thibodeau didn’t hesitate to praise the work Butler has put in to get to this point.
‘‘He has a lot of intangibles: strength, body balance, discipline, intelligence,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘And he has a great work ethic. When you have those qualities, you continue to improve. He’s gotten better and better.’’
Far from fearing James will erupt against him, Butler said he is looking forward to going out and doing it again.
‘‘You can’t stop LeBron; there’s no stopping him,’’ said Butler, who added he’s ‘‘enjoying every moment of this. It’s what you wanted when you were little — to go up against the best, the guys you see on TV.’’
That said, Butler will strive for perfection, knowing it’s unlikely to happen against James.
‘‘He’s going to make his baskets,’’ Butler said. ‘‘All you can hope to do is make things tough for him. Challenge every shot.’’