Randle back from injury, starting for Knicks in Game 1

New York Knicks' Julius Randle warms up before Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Saturday, April 15, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett) (Nick Cammett, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

CLEVELAND – New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle is in the starting lineup for Game 1 of the NBA playoffs against the Cavaliers on Saturday after missing the final five games of the regular season with a sprained left ankle.

Randle hasn't played since March 29, when he rolled his ankle against Miami. He had played in New York's first 77 games before getting hurt.

Randle was limited in practice this week, but New York's leading scorer, who averaged a career-high 25.1 points, tested his ankle during pregame warmups and appears ready to go.

It's not known how much Randle will play or how effective he'll be.

The Cavs will also get back starting small forward Isaac Okoro, who missed the final six games with a sore knee. Okoro is Cleveland's best perimeter defender.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't worried about Randle's conditioning because he's had all season to build up his stamina. Thibodeau said his message to Randle will be to “go out there and get it done.”

The Cavs expected Randle to play and spent the week preparing for the 6-foot-8 power forward to be on the floor. The Knicks beat the Cavs without Randle on March 31, when guard Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 48 points in a 130-116 win.


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