5-at-10: Playoff Jimmy is a dude, NBA blowhards blowing fuses, Acuña is a boss

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon (13) in the first half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals playoff series in Boston, Wednesday, May 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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Butler did it

Good morning.

Are we ready to admit that Playoff Jimmy Butler is some form of prime MJ, healthy Bird and the Chuck Norris caricature in all those "The boogeyman checks under his bed for Chuck Norris."

Maybe so, but Chuck Norris wears Playoff Jimmy Butler PJs and is ready to admit it to anyone as not to irritate Playoff Jimmy Butler.

So, on the heels of Sunday's Game 7 beatdown of the 76ers, Boston hosted Game 1 against a Miami team seeded No. 8 in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

This Miami team is without Tyler Herro, who was the NBA's best sixth-man and arguably the Heat's best offensive player during the regular season.

But the value of the regular season is taking more of a beating than Kevin Durant's reputation and Draymond Green's perception as a good teammate.

The Heat rested Butler and everyone else in Miami this side of Dan Marino and Ray Finkle — "Laces OUT, Dan" — and eased into the playoffs in the play-in game. Heck, the Heat even lost the play-in game to the stinkin' Hawks, and now they have home-court advantage to get to the NBA Finals.

And it's because of Playoff Jimmy.

Playoff Jimmy don't play around, and maybe we should have know it when the stories circulated that Jimmy was so unhappy with the competitive spirit and drive of his Minnesota teammates he reportedly challenged the entire team to a high-stakes scrimmage and he took the scrubs and the equipment managers and wore out the rest of the T-Wolves regulars.

Heck, maybe the biggest statement other than his 43 minutes, 35 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds while spending a bulk of the time checking Jayson Tatum, is the fact that Playoff Jimmy wanted out of Philly a few years ago because the rest of the 76ers were soft.

The proof being in the playoff pudding of the last four days in Boston, and all.

NBA splash bros.

No, this is not about Klay and Steph, the NBA shooting Splash Brothers, who got the nickname making 3s and wowing fans with accuracy.

This is the "Make a Splash" bros. of NBA blowhards Chris Broussard and JJ Reddick, who are apparently trying to say the most outlandish things possible in high-profile moments for the NBA.

First, let's start with Broussard, who was on ESPN for a while and is now somewhere else, and in truth, if you are not on ESPN or TNT when it comes to NBA discussion, aren't you like the announcing tree that calls in the empty forest? Does it make a sound?

So maybe that's why Broussard offered this eye-popping assessment of soon-to-be-first-overall-pick Victor Wembanyama: "If he's AD, KD or Hakeem, that's a disappointment."

Holy Schnikes, talk about some overblown expectations. AD is a unicorn, KD is one of the top 10 scorers in NBA history and Hakeem Olajuwon is a top-fiveish center all-time. (Side question: Ranking centers, if you got to draft their prime three years, you go Wilt, Kareem, Shaq and then Hakeem over Russell, or no? I know Spy just spit out his coffee and is about to fire off a heated email, but what's your top-five peak three-year-run for a center draft?)

The other was the world-class malarkey that Reddick spewed in an effort to out Stephen A. on Stephen A.'s show on ESPN Wednesday morning.

Reddick bemoaned the double-standard working against Ja Morant, who did not break any laws in his latest gun social media post. Reddick specifically referenced GOP lawmakers.

Again, we said this earlier this week. The difference here is both are completely free of prosecution to lift guns in the air and wave them around like they just don't care.

The outrage and backlash comes from those people's bosses, not law enforcement, and the constituents of those GOP folks are assuredly pro-gun in most cases.

Adam Silver, and an image conscious NBA, is assuredly not in favor of Ja's latest boneheadedness.

In fact, we will give the final word to the one and only Chuck Barkley here, who puts words to wisdom with his two-minute sound bite last night.

So did we mention studs

Earlier this week, I was guffawing at the marvel that is Shohei Ohtani, even wondering if he's the best player in all of team sports.

Ohtani's duality — a bona fide No. 1 starter and a bona fide 3-hole hitter in one everyday package — is amazing. Historic in fact.

But do not sleep on Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who is starting to get firecracker hot even before Memorial Day.

Acuña homered again last night, his 70th in 60 ABs in May.

Simply put, he's crafting a lead-off season for the ages.

(Side note: If none of the Braves pitchers will back him up for the river of inside fastball Acuña sees on a nightly basis, if an opposing pitcher plunks Acuña and causes arguably the most entertaining player in the game to miss significant time, well, I'm going to pull out a voodoo doll of said pitcher and the results will not be pretty.)

Acuña will win a Gold Glove at some point. I believe he will be an MVP, and even have some coins on him doing that this year.

And right now, well, consider the following:

— Acuña is the best player on the best team in the NL.

— Acuña is slashing .345/.437/.615, and that final number leads the NL in slugging percentage.

— He leads the NL in runs, hits, total bases and stolen bases.

— At a smidgen past the first quarter of the marathon that is the MLB season — Atlanta is 27-16 — fancy these projections for Mr. Acuña, if you're "Nasty," people: 150 runs, 218 hits, 41 homers, 67 stolen bases and 101 RBIs.

Yeah, even Playoff Jimmy is impressed with those numbers.

This and that

— Speaking of the Heat, I know all awards are based on the regular season, and that's probably how it should be. But if we voted again right now, Nikola Jokic is a unanimous MVP (well, maybe Playoff Jimmy gets some votes) and Miami's Erick Spoelstra gets every single vote for Coach of the Year, right?

— Here's Paschall on UT muckity-mucks weighing some big expenditures for some big developments in a Vols' 'entertainment' district along the athletic corridor on the UT campus. Interesting thoughts in the monster-monetized arms race that is big-time college athletics.

— Good for UTC's golf team, which qualified for the NCAA championships with a third-place finish at the Auburn regional this week. Here's more.

— So another Arizona pitcher channeled his inner-Randy Johnson and killed a bird mid-flight with a pitched ball.

— Yeah, this one does not seem legally fair. A woman in Mexico was sentenced to six years in prison for killing a man while she was trying to defend herself from being raped by the guy. If the details in the story are accurate, man, hope that one gets flipped on appeal to be honest.

— Cruelty to turtles is not OK, now or never really. Here's more in today's TFP, and it makes me sad that people are even considering being cruel to turtles. As a society, it really feels like we are a shell of our former selves, you know? Maybe someone will sue, get some tortoise interference or some of that legalese that Intern Scott knows. Thoughts?

Today's questions

It's an anything goes Thursday, so anything goes, and it will go a little something like this: So let's reach into the Jimmy box for a litany of overrated, underrated, properly rated.

Playoff Jimmy, underrated, overrated, properly rated.

Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, underrated, overrated, properly rated.

Hickory Huskers wing Jimmy Chitwood, underrated, overrated, properly rated.

"A Day in the Life of Jimmy Reardon" with a young River Phoenix, underrated, overrated, properly rated.

As a "Seinfeld" side character, Jimmy from the gym that lead George to refer to George in the third-person, underrated, overrated, properly rated.

The saying, "It's not about the Xs and the Os; it's about the Jimmys and the Joes," underrated, overrated, properly rated.


As for today, May 18, let's review.

On this day in 1999, the third Backstreet Boys' album debuted. Which of those is your favorite, Spy?

Couple of all-time MLB dudes have a birthday today, as Brooks Robinson turns 86 and Reggie Jackson turns 77.

What other three dudes fill out the Rushmore of Reggie? Go and remember the mailbag.