NBA playoffs: Knicks close out Cavaliers to reach Eastern Conference semifinals, lose Julius Randle to ankle injury
Julius Randle rolled his ankle off Caris LeVert's foot just before halftime Wednesday night in Cleveland, and did not return
For the first time in a decade, the New York Knicks are headed to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Knicks closed out the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-95 on Wednesday night in Game 5 of their opening-round playoff series. The 11-point win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse gave the Knicks the 4-1 series win, and officially marks the Knicks’ first playoff series win since 2013.
After splitting the first two games of the series, the Knicks have largely rolled past the Cavaliers. They picked up a 20-point win in Game 3 of the series, and pushed ahead to a nine-point win in Game 4 on Sunday.
The Knicks then controlled the game most of the way Wednesday. After bouncing back and forth through the opening minutes, the Knicks took a 10-point halftime lead behind 17 points from Jalen Brunson. While the Cavaliers cut it to just six points briefly in the fourth, the Knicks responded with a very lengthy 10-2 run before easily closing out the 11-point win.
Donovan Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, though he shot just 3 of 12 from behind the arc. Darius Garland added 21 points, and Caris LeVert finished with 17 points.
Brunson finished with 23 points to lead the Knicks in the win. R.J. Barrett added 21 points after shooting 7 of 13 from the field, and Immanuel Quickley finished with 19 points off the bench.
Knicks lose Julius Randle to ankle injury
Though they got the win, the Knicks may have lost Julius Randle for the near future.
Randle, with just less than 90 seconds left in the first half, rose up to contest a LeVert jump shot near the free-throw line. As he came back down, Randle’s left ankle landed right on LeVert’s foot. His ankle rolled hard, and Randle was sent to the court in pain.
Julius Randle heads to the locker room after re-injuring his ankle pic.twitter.com/2NhlqAWLOM
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 27, 2023
He tried to get up initially, but fell back down as play was stopped. Randle eventually walked off the court on his own, but went straight to the locker room.
The Knicks initially listed him as doubtful to return to start the second half, but he was seen in street clothes later in the half. Randle finished with 13 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes. He is expected to be evaluated further on Thursday.
Tom Thibodeau on Julius Randle's ankle: "It would be premature for me to comment." Says Randle has to be re-examined tomorrow. "We're hopeful that it's not bad," he added.
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 27, 2023
Randle first sprained his left ankle in March, but returned in time for Game 1 of their series against the Cavaliers. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ 102-93 win in Game 4.
"The thing is, he had to work around the clock to get back," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after Game 4, via ESPN. "That's what I love about Julius. He gives you everything that he has. There's 77 games, he sprains his ankle and then he works like crazy to get back, you know how important he is to the team, but to get back, to get ready to play — our medical people did a great job, but that's all him. He was working around the clock on that, he still is. That's the challenge that we have and that's what I respect about him. And we just got to get ready for our next game."
While the severity of the injury is not yet known, it's not a good sign for the Knicks. The Knicks will take on the Miami Heat in the semifinals. The Heat, who were a play-in team, stunned the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night after another wild performance from Jimmy Butler.