Julius Randle, the New York Knicks’ leading scorer, is looking to make a comeback in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. However, Randle’s ankle injury may prevent him from playing, and his status remains questionable. The Knicks have not confirmed his status yet, but reports say that Randle is steadily improving and is targeting a return in Game 1. The two-time All-Star has been out of action since suffering a left ankle sprain against the Miami Heat on March 29. He will test the ankle during pregame warm-ups before making a final decision.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding his playing status, Cavaliers big man Jarrett Allen expects Randle to play. The team has been preparing as if the Knicks will have their leading scorer and rebounder in the lineup. The Knicks won against the Cavaliers on March 31 without Randle’s help. During that game, Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 48 points, which was the late-season games Randle missed.
If Randle is unable to play, Obi Toppin, Josh Hart, and Jericho Sims could replace his minutes. Toppin and Hart have been performing well in recent games, and Sims has been impressive on defense.
It’s worth noting that Brunson was named one of three finalists for the league’s Most Improved Player award, which Randle won in 2021. Moreover, Immanuel Quickley, a Knicks point guard, was named a finalist for the Sixth Man of the Year.
In conclusion, with the Knicks looking to advance to the next round, having Randle back in the lineup can boost their chances. Still, given the need for his long-term health and performance, the decision on whether to allow him to play may take longer.
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