Knicks All-Star F Julius Randle (ankle sprain) is expected to be out for Game 1 vs. Miami today, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 30, 2023
For the Knicks, being without Randle for some games might prove difficult to overcome, especially since the All-Star performed well against the Heat in the regular season. In four games against Miami, he put up 21.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game on a 49.2 percent shooting clip.
Randle has been dealing with ankle issues since late March. The injury caused him to miss New York’s final five contests in the regular season after appearing in every game prior.
However, he was healthy enough to suit up in his team’s first-round bout against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He did appear to still be hobbled by the injury, as his stats (14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest) and efficiency (33.8 percent field-goal percentage) were significantly down compared to his regular season numbers.
Still, the Knicks were able to defeat the fourth-seeded Cavs in just five games, thanks in large part to strong performances from Jalen Brunson, Mitchell Robinson, Josh Hart and RJ Barrett. Unfortunately, Randle seemed to aggravate his ankle injury in Game 5.
According to Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, the former lottery pick is a game-time decision. So, the Heat will have to prepare for any eventuality.
Tom Thibodeau says Julius Randle (ankle) remains game-time decision.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) April 30, 2023
Miami is already facing a tall task as is because New York had the No. 8 seed’s number in the regular season. The Erik Spoelstra-led squad lost its regular season series against the Knicks 3-1, with all of those contests being decided by less than 10 points.
But the playoffs are a different matter.
The Heat already proved that in the first round after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks 4-1. Jimmy Butler paved the way for Miami, putting up 37.6 points per match while shooting 59.7 percent from the field.
The fact that his offensive outbursts came against elite defensive players like Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo should give a boost of confidence to the Heat organization and its fans.