Report: Julius Randle targeting return for Game 1 of Cavs-Knicks playoff series

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Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle reportedly is targeting Game 1 of the Knicks’ playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers for his return from a sprained ankle.

Randle suffered the ankle injury on March 29 against the Miami Heat. The team announced that he’d be re-evaluated in two weeks, which happens to come just before Game 1 on Saturday, April 15.

“Multiple sources have told Hoops Wire that Randle is targeting a return for Game 1,” Hoops Wire’s Sam Amico wrote.

“But for now, his status appears to be very much in limbo.”

Randle had been an iron horse for the Knicks all season long before going down with the ankle injury against Miami. He had appeared in every game of the 2022-23 season up to that point, but the team sat him out for the final five games of the regular season.

The two-time All-Star averaged 35.5 minutes per game for the Knicks, the second-highest mark in a single season in his NBA career.

The Knicks would love to get Randle back, as he leads the team in scoring (25.1 points per game), rebounding (10.0 rebounds per game) and is second on the team in assists per game (4.1).

New York did beat the Cavs in the last meeting between the two teams without Randle, but Jarrett Allen also missed that game for Cleveland. Jalen Brunson led the way for New York in that game with a season-high 48 points.

In his three games against the Cavs this season, Randle has averaged 23.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

Getting Randle back in time for Game 1 would be a huge boost for New York, but forward Obi Toppin filled in well at the end of the regular season.

In five starts to close the 2022-23 season, Toppin averaged 21.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 58.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Toppin, a former first-round pick, hasn’t seen a ton of playing time (15.7 minutes per game) this season because of Randle’s strong play.

With several days remaining before the Knicks and Cavs face off in Game 1, it is likely fans will get another update on Randle status prior to Saturday’s showdown.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.