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OKC Thunder: Caron Butler part of what is becoming the Thunder's new closing five

Butler arrived in Oklahoma City with an inkling that he’d get some playing time. But this much, this early?
by Anthony Slater Published: March 12, 2014

Caron Butler arrived in Oklahoma City with an inkling that he’d get some playing time.

But this much, this early? Not sure anyone could have expected that.

Since his arrival, Butler has averaged 27 minutes in his four games. Other than the Thunder’s big three – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka – that’s easily the most of any OKC player during that stretch.

Forget about easing him in. Coach Scott Brooks has immediately given Butler a starter’s share of the playing time.

“I’m not surprised,” Brooks said, when asked about how quickly Butler has carved out such a substantial rotation role. “I’m excited about what he brings us.”

Excited enough to not only give him big minutes, but give him important minutes.

In two of the past three games, Butler has been in the closing five.

And alongside him has been a lineup that we can probably expect to see more of in the future: Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka, Butler and Derek Fisher.

It played the final 5:41 in Phoenix and the final 8:03 during Tueday’s win over Houston. Against the Suns, it was unable to crawl out of a four-point hole. Against the Rockets, it sealed a crucial win.

“I like it,” Brooks said. “It gives us good experience.”

How much experience? On a roster known for its youth, it’s a five-man lineup that’s logged a combined 48 years of NBA time.

And that’s why, late in tight games, it projects as a group that Brooks will continue to trust. He’ll always close with his three stars. We already know how he feels about Fisher. And it seems he’s developing similar admiration for Butler’s intangibles.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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