Now down three games to one in their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks are definitely missing starting center Mitchell Robinson, who’s been out since March 29 with a broken right foot.
And it appears the 23-year old is growing increasingly restless on the sidelines.
Robinson posted a brief highlight montage on Instagram on Monday night, from a January 21 win over the Golden State Warriors, captioned ‘Missing the fight’ with the praying hands emoji:
He also posted it to his Instagram story, making it just the latest in a series of cryptic postings.
On Friday night, Robinson posted this message on Instagram, seemingly begging to be brought back to the hardwood:
It sent fans into a spiral, wondering if Robinson was preparing to have his own “Willis Reed” moment.
But Game Two came and passed, and the center made no appearance.
The same can be said for Games Three and Four, where Atlanta took a three-to-one lead in dominant back-to-back wins.
For now, that looks to stay the case, with there still no concrete timetable on a return for Mitchell Robinson.
Robinson’s Readiness is Unclear
Before the New York Knicks’ comeback Game Two victory over the Atlanta Hawks, head coach Tom Thibodeau was asked (via the New York Post) about Mitchell Robinson’s rehab and his pending return:
Just basically the same. He’s still several steps away. He’s doing well overall. Good, steady progress. We’re not taking any chances with him. He’s got to go step-by-step. He’s doing a little bit, but not much. Then the first step is doing individual stuff, then he has to be cleared for team practices. We’re just going to be patient and go through the process.
I was told basically don’t rule out Mitch as returning, and that, he has been…the term I used was “briefed” on the Hawks. They are preparing as if there’s a possibility at least that Mitchell Robinson plays in this series.
It’s been only two months since Robinson suffered a broken foot back in March, so a return at this point would definitely seem premature, although the Knicks never set a timetable for his return.
Maybe a return during a potential second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers is more realistic.
New York would be even more outmatched than they are now, and up against an MVP-finalist in center Joel Embiid.
For now, Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks are trusting Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson to get the job done, with third-string big Norvel Pelle on stand-by.
Still, if there ever was a time to pull a trump card move like Mitchell Robinson returning, it seems a win-or-go-home situation would call for such a reveal.
But perhaps the front office feels differently, and would rather wait and see if the team can pull out a win on Wednesday and extend the series, seemingly not completely rushing the big man back.
Knicks Going Small for Game Five?
With the game all but out of reach on Sunday, head coach Tom Thibodeau finally opted for yet another lineup change fans have been begging for, for what feels like months.
The New York Knicks went small and played rookie Obi Toppin next to Julius Randle in the frontcourt.
With Nerlens Noel clearly not 100 percent, it seems inevitable that fans see the lineup once again in Game Five.
Thibodeau told reporters (via the New York Post) after the Knicks’ latest loss that ‘everything’ is on the table:
Right now we’re at the point where everything is on the table. And Nerlens is a warrior. He’s given us everything he has. We have great belief in him. He’s nicked up, but he’s out there fighting. The shot blocking, the rim protecting is critical. So give us what you have.
Whether it will be enough to keep the New York Knicks alive and extend the series is to be determined.