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Oklahoma City Thunder: Much like the Thunder-Grizzlies series, Caron Butler's career has been full of twists and turns

by Jenni Carlson Published: May 2, 2014

If you want twists and turns, drama and suspense, this Thunder-Grizzlies series is for you.

Think of all the crazy swings we’ve seen over the past two weeks.

Beno Udrih. Overtimes. Reggie Jackson. Buzzer-beaters that weren’t. Joey Crawford. Headlinegate.

The latest one: Zach Randolph has been suspended for Game 7 for punching Steven Adams in the jaw.

While that suspension might take the cake for series surprises, Caron Butler runs a close second. Thursday night in a must-win Game 6, Thunder coach Scott Brooks shocked everyone with the biggest strategic move of the series. Thabo Sefolosha was out. Butler was in. It was the first non-injury, non-trade adjustment that Brooks has made to his starting lineup since the 2008-09 season when Russell Westbrook took over for Earl Watson. If that seems like a million years ago, it’s because it was.

And just like the Westbrook-for-Watson swap, Butler-for-Sefolosha worked like a charm, too.

Even though Butler only scored seven points, he helped spread out the Memphis defense and open up lanes for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Those guys had more room to work, and the Thunder rolled.

Seems fitting that Butler has joined the series spotlight as the Thunder and the Grizzlies head to Game 7 on Saturday night. No one better personifies the unexpected twists of this series or the unbridled excitement of the Thunder Nation.

This guy is stoked to be in this place in this moment.

“It’s fun when you win,” he said, a twinkle in his eye. “I don’t know how many losses I experienced this season, but was a lot before coming over here to the Thunder.”

Butler started out the season in Milwaukee, his hometown, after the Bucks acquired him via trade. It was supposed to be a magical match, the hometown guy and the up-and-coming Bucks.

When the team officially introduced him, it did so at his old high school. It was such an emotional day that Butler broke down and cried during the press conference.

But then, the season began, and the Bucks went from up and coming to down and out. By the time the Bucks waived Butler in February, they had lost 45 games.

That’s how many regular-season games the Thunder lost total the last two seasons.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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