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NY Post
New York Post
15 Apr 2023

NextImg:Julius Randle starting for Knicks in Game 1 versus Cavaliers after injury concerns

CLEVELAND – After weeks of uncertainty, questions about Julius Randle’s iffy playoff status, all that worrying appeared to be a waste of time.

The Knicks’ leading scorer and rebounder was not only available for Game 1 of this best-of-seven, opening-round playoff series against the Cavaliers.

He was in the starting lineup.

The two-time All-Star sprained his left ankle in a win over the Heat on March 29, and missed the final five regular season games of the year.

The first positive sign came last Sunday when Randle was no longer in a boot.

He took part in practices on a limited basis this week, but was held out of contact drills, Tom Thibodeau said.

But the Knicks’ coach made it clear his star was improving each day, a hint that this was trending towards Randle being ready to go when the ball was tipped for this highly anticipated showdown.

Want to catch a game? The Knicks schedule with links to buy tickets can be found here.

Julius Randle warming up before Game 1.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

But Randle felt well enough to play Saturday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

It was very good news for the underdog Knicks, who will need to be at their best to win their first playoff series in a decade.

Julius Randle

Julius Randle is starting for the Knicks in Game 1 on Saturday.
NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks took the season series from the Cavaliers, 3-1, and Randle was a big part of that.

Although he missed the final meeting between the two teams, in three games he averaged 23 points, 10.3 rebounds and five assists while shooting 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

Even if Randle isn’t 100 percent, his presence alone should help the Knicks and limit the amount of attention Cleveland can pay to Jalen Brunson.

The Cavaliers were preparing like Randle would play.

“Uhhh, is that a thing? OK,” center Jarrett Allen told reporters on Thursday. “I guess that just shows that we’re prepared either way. I mean, anything can happen. He could play, he could not play. I guess we’re not ready if he doesn’t play, but we have things set up to how they should be.”

Julius Randle of the Knicks on the ground after getting injured against the Heat

Julius Randle of the Knicks on the ground after getting injured against the Heat.
Getty Images

Before suffering the injury, Randle had appeared in all 77 games for the Knicks, producing 25.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists along with shooting 46 percent from the field.