Tom Thibodeau Provides Knicks Injury Update Ahead of Game 1

Julius Randle injury, New York Knicks

Getty New York Knicks forward Julius Randle

The New York Knicks are hopeful to have Julius Randle back in the lineup when they open their second-round series against their bitter rivals Miami Heat on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

New York coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that Randle participated in a limited capacity during Friday’s practice.

“He didn’t do much today, but he’s feeling a little bit better, “Thibodeau said of Randle. “So he goes through the rehab. See where he is tomorrow. He’s better today than yesterday, and that’s the big thing. We’re hopeful.”

Randle re-aggravated his previous left ankle injury after awkwardly landing on Caris LeVert’s foot with 1:17 left in the first half of the Knicks’ series-clinching win in Game 5.

The first ankle injury he sustained on March 29 against the Miami Heat sidelined him for 17 days, and he missed the Knicks’ final five games before the playoffs. But Thibodeau confirmed it was less severe this time.

“Yeah, same ankle,” Thibodeau said. “We’re hopeful and take it day-to-day.”

According to Thibodeau, Randle did some cardio work in the pool and spot-up shooting.

Randle has never been the same since the ankle injury. He struggled to regain his rhythm, averaging a paltry 14.4 points on 33.8% shooting and 23.5% from deep in the first round against the Cavaliers.

Quentin Grimes Is Hopeful to Play in Game 1

The Knicks’ starting shooting guard Quentin Grimes is progressing to return after missing the last two games with a right shoulder contusion.

Grimes went through full practice for the first time and felt good.

“That’s the plan [to play in Game 1],” Grimes told reporters after Friday’s practice. “I’m going to practice again tomorrow and if I feel good like I did today, that’s most definitely the plan.”

If he returns on Sunday, it is unclear if Thibodeau will slide him back to the starting lineup or ease him off the bench.

During Grimes’ two-game absence, Josh Hart was phenomenal in an almost no-relief job, averaging 11.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 43.4 minutes while holding Donovan Mitchell to 19.5 points on 36.4% shooting. Hart played 47 minutes in the series clincher.

The Knicks have outscored the Cavaliers by a dozen during Hart’s minutes in their last two wins without Grimes.

Grimes and Hart are expected to alternate in trying to slow down Jimmy Butler, who averaged 37.6 points against the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Butler dropped 98 points over his last two games– a career-high 56 points in Game 4 and 42 in Game 5.

Obi Toppin Is Always Ready to Step Up

Obi Toppin stepped up when Randle went down in Game 5, much like he did during the Knicks’ final five games in the regular season without their All-Star.

Toppin pumped in all his 12 points in an electric third quarter performance that helped the Knicks keep the Cavaliers at bay.

“My approach is the same every time I enter the game,” Toppin told reporters after the game. “I know what I got to do– be aggressive, go out there, bring a lot of energy and have fun and definitely play defense– so I felt like not only myself, we all did that [Wednesday].”

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