The New York Knicks are holding their breath at the worst possible time.
All-Star forward Julius Randle left Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat in the first half with an ankle injury.
The team called it a sprain. He made two free throws after the injury and tried to stay but he went down with a coach and didn’t come back.
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The Knicks have lost six of their last 10, but should comfortably make the playoffs.
Their 43-33 record is good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and they are three games ahead of the play-in tournament with five to go after Wednesday night.
They’re lined up for a tough matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who swooped in and took New York’s top trade target in Donovan Mitchell over the summer. Without Randle, the Knicks could be in trouble.
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Randle has gotten a bad rap in recent weeks with outbursts against refs and teammates. She was an ongoing critic of him last season after he stepped back from a 2020-21 Most Improved Player campaign that saw him make his first All-Star team and help the Knicks to their first playoff berth since 2012-13.
But Randle’s 25.4 points and 10 rebounds per game and 34.4% shooting from three points led the team into Wednesday.
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The Knicks play the Cavs in Cleveland on Friday. Randle hasn’t missed a game all season and leads the team with 35.8 minutes per game. He has played the second most minutes in the NBA this season: 2,723 as of Wednesday.