By TIM REYNOLDS
MIAMI (AP) — New York guards Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes played an entire elimination game with no rest, just to extend their season.
And Miami’s Jimmy Butler — even after being on the losing end of that effort — tipped his cap out of respect.
At this time of year, whatever it takes. It’s why Brunson and Grimes are playing 48 minutes, why Butler is playing through ankle soreness, why Golden State’s Stephen Curry is taking more shots per game — by a significant margin — than he ever has in a playoff run, and why the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis will likely play through whatever is ailing him after he had to leave early Wednesday night.
For two teams, Game 6 on Friday night is win-or-go-home; for two others, it could be win-and-move-on to the conference finals. The Heat play host to New York, the Lakers play host to Golden State, both home clubs have 3-2 series leads and both visiting clubs staved off elimination with wins on Wednesday in their respective Game 5s.
“Every moment is its own challenge and its own game and its own opportunity to see what you’re made of,” Lakers forward LeBron James said. “Friday is another opportunity for us to see who we are and see what we’re made of and to go out there with, I guess, the grit and the fight that we’ve had since we came together after the All-Star break.”
The Warriors have won a road game in 28 consecutive playoff series, an NBA record. They have to get to 29 with a win Friday, or their reign as champions will end. Curry is taking 23.6 shots per game in the playoffs, about three more per game than he ever has in a postseason run, and who knows how many he’ll need to try to give Golden State its best chance on Friday.
“The guys will always have belief,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s just who they are.”
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has raved about the level of competition in the Heat-Knicks series, and expects more of the same in Game 6. The Heat wasted a close-out chance in Game 5 at New York, but have a chance at home Friday to finish the series and get to the East finals for the third time in four years.
“I’m never surprised with anything come playoff basketball time,” Butler said. “Your best is needed. All 48 minutes, if more if you’re going into overtime. If ‘Spo’ tells me to play 48 minutes, I will be suited and booted and ready to do that and we’ll win.”
KNICKS AT HEAT
Heat lead 3-2. Game 6, 7:30 p.m. EDT, Friday, ESPN.