The New York Knicks are headed to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in a decade, after a 106-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 on Wednesday night. They now await the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks-Miami Heat series for the next round.
In the closeout game against the Cavaliers, Jalen Brunson was once again the leading scorer for the New York Knicks, finishing with 23 points, four assists, and four rebounds. R.J. Barrett chipped in with 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Immanuel Quickley added 19 points off the bench.
Despite a strong performance from the Cavs’ backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, who combined for 49 points, it wasn’t enough to keep Cleveland’s playoff hopes alive. They will now focus on improving their roster during the offseason.
The last time the New York Knicks advanced to the second round was during the 2012-13 season, led by coach Mike Woodson and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony. However, they lost to the Pacers in six games in the conference semifinals. The Knicks haven’t reached the conference finals since 1999.
While the New York Knicks celebrated their series win, they did suffer a setback when star forward Julius Randle was forced to exit Game 5 with a left ankle injury during the closing minutes of the first half and did not return.
During the closing minutes of the first half of Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Julius Randle suffered an ankle injury while attempting to defend Caris LeVert’s jump shot. He landed awkwardly and stayed down on the court for a few minutes before leaving the game and heading to the locker room. The incident can be viewed in the footage below:
Before exiting the game due to his ankle injury, Randle had a remarkable first half, contributing 13 points, four rebounds, and six assists in just 16 minutes of play. His performance helped the Knicks establish a lead that they maintained throughout the game to secure the series victory.
However, this injury may be a recurrence of a previous ankle sprain that Randle suffered in late March. As a result, he missed the final five regular-season games before returning for the playoffs. Unfortunately, playing through a recovering injury can increase the risk of re-injury, as seems to have happened in this case.
With the New York Knicks advancing to the second round of the playoffs, Randle’s condition will be a top priority for the team. The Knicks will undoubtedly hope that their star forward will be available for the upcoming series and beyond.
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