Tom Thibodeau Provides Injury Update on Julius Randle Ahead of Knicks-Cavs Series

Julius Randle injury, New York Knicks

Getty New York Knicks forward Julius Randle

New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle is gearing toward returning from an ankle injury after he joined the team practice on Tuesday.

However, Randle was limited to non-contact drills. Still, it was a positive development for the Knicks, who will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the NBA playoffs, beginning on Saturday.

“[Randle] did some, making steady progress, so [we] just take it day-to-day,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s doing some running, shooting, scripting, that sort of thing. He meets with the medical [team] every day, so when he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. But he’s made good steady progress. Each day, he’s a little bit better.”

The Knicks coach remained non-committal on Randle’s status for Game 1, but his sheepish smile at the end provided the biggest hint that his star forward may be on track.

Per SNY’s Ian Begley, Randle is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Thursday, April 14, two days before series begins in Cleveland.

The Knicks will need Randle at full strength against the Cavaliers, who boast of twin towers Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley in their frontline.

Obi Toppin’s Confidence is at an All-time High

If Randle isn’t good to go on Saturday, Obi Toppin will try to hold the fort anew.

Toppin is riding high on a strong finish to the regular season sans Randle. Over the Knicks’ final five games, Toppin averaged 21.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals with a ridiculous 58/44/90 shooting split.

“I just feel like everybody’s locked into winning games,” Toppin said after the Knicks lost their final game of the season to the Indiana Pacers on April 9. “Thibs is a great coach, and he’s just pushing us every day to get better and get to this playoffs.”

Toppin started his strong finish with 12 points against the Cavaliers on March 31, helping the Knicks pull out a 130-116 win, their third straight victory since losing their first meeting of the season.

Jalen Brunson Put Cavs on Notice

Without Randle in their final meeting of the regular season, Jalen Brunson took over and carried the Knicks with a career-high 48 points.

“The game that Jalen Brunson had put us on high alert,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I think that’s a good thing for us. To have that appropriate fear of your opponent…We’ll use it, we’ll watch the film, we’ll figure it out, and we’ll be better.”

Brunson is averaging 25.3 points on 45.5% from deep, with 6.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds against Cleveland this season.

All eyes will be on his keenly awaited rematch against Donovan Mitchell, who he dominated in the playoffs last season out West.

There is also pressure to beat the Cavaliers after the Knicks lost out in the Mitchell sweepstakes in the offseason.

A Westchester native, Mitchell thought he was headed home but he ended up with the Cavaliers when the Knicks refused to cave in to Utah Jazz’s high demands.

Mitchell is averaging 31.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds. He’s hit 22 3-pointers on a staggering 46.8% accuracy in those four games. His 5.5 3s per game against the Knicks this season is his 2nd-most (tied with his former team Jazz) against all NBA teams.