R.J. Barrett reveals New York’s mentality after Game 5 victory vs. Heat: ‘We are fighting for our lives’

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New York‘s R.J. Barrett was one of his team’s strongest assets in their crucial Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against Miami this Wednesday night. Now as Game 6 shifts back to Florida and the Heat lead 3-2, the foward admits they are at a point of no return and need to step up their game. 

For Barrett, it’s do-or-die now, but he assured that even though overcoming the series’ deficit is a big challenge, it’s not impossible.

“We’re fighting for our lives,” he told the press postgame. “This is something that can be done. It’s been done 13 times before.”

When asked about his teammates’ performance, he simply stated that in postseason players must to give it their all. “Playoffs,” Barrett said. “Their guys are playing a lot of minutes, too. This is what it is. You got to kind of scratch and claw and do whatever you can to win the game.”

His coach Tim Thibodeau had praise for every single one of their players, and gushed over R.J.’s display of 26 points on 8 of 17 shooting and finding Miami’s weak spots all throughout the contest. “I thought [Julius Randle] and RJ were terrific,” the Knicks trainer expressed.

Coach Thibodeau played Grimes and Brunson all 41 minutes of Game 5 vs. Miami

As Quentin Grimes had come off the bench in the first two outings against Miami, his coach decided to play him throughout the whole match last night without rest as teammate Josh Hart was in foul trouble.

Knicks’ point guard Jalen Brunson also shared the responsibility with Grimes of guarding their opponents’ star player Jimmy Butler during this Wednesday’s crucial clash. The Heat’s six-time All-Star has been a pain for them throughout this semifinal series, but New York was able to defend him well in their 112-103 triumph at the Garden.

“He’s probably been the best player of the playoffs so far. So knowing I have that matchup every night, I have to be more disciplined and probably have to play 48,” Grimes said. “Forty eight or 25, it really doesn’t matter to me. I’ve just got to make sure I’m locked in on him defensively and try to do whatever I can to slow him down.”

“I was planning initially on having Jalen and Quentin come out, but the way the game unfolded, the way we were in foul trouble, I knew we couldn’t do that,” coach Thibodeau admitted.

“One thing about Quentin,” he added. “I think he spaces the floor for us differently. But he is a two-way player. He is a hustle player. Jimmy’s gonna make you work, and you gotta make him work. And so I thought he did as good a job as you can do.”

However, if one thing is for certain, is how Brunson has led his squad offensively time and time again, giving his trainer no option but to play him every single second of the game and force Miami to a Game 6 exhibition down in Florida.

“What can you say about the guy?” Thibodeau said. “He’s just incredible, all-around player. Great leader, great toughness. Mental toughness, physical toughness, ability to think on his feet, ability to lead, ability to connect with people, bring the best out of people. That’s what makes him special. And it’s play after play.”