Forward Julius Randle and point guard Jalen Brunson from the New York Knicks, along with swingman Jimmy Butler from the Miami Heat, are all listed as questionable on the injury report heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The #5 Knicks are down 0-1 in the series when they host the #8 Heat at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. The Heat were +6.5 underdogs in Game 1, yet still held off the Knicks in a 108-101 victory.
Randle sat out the first game of the series with an ankle injury while both Brunson and Butler incurred sprained ankles in Game 1.
Knicks shooting guard Quentin Grimes, who missed multiple games in the first round with a shoulder injury, only played 10 minutes against the Heat in Game 1. Meanwhile, Knicks backup center Jericho Sims is out for the entire postseason after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum and cuff tendon on his right shoulder.
The short-handed Heat lost two guards during their opening-round upset over the #1 Milwaukee Bucks. Shooting guard Tyler Herro fractured his shooting hand, and backup guard Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Banged-Up Jimmy Buckets
Butler was a one-man wrecking crew in the first round by averaging 37.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per game in five games against the Bucks. In the four games the Heat won, he averaged 40.5 points per game. He erupted for a franchise-high 56 points in Game 4 and followed that epic performance with 42 points in the series-clincher in Game 5.
Butler rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter against the Knicks on Sunday but remained in the game and played through the pain.
Jimmy reassured me that he wasn’t going to be a liability and he wanted to stay in there and make sure we get this win,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Butler still tallied 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 43 minutes in Game 1. He shot 50% from the floor and went 9-for-11 from the charity stripe in the 7-point victory.
Butler has been unstoppable so far in the playoffs. Even without Herro and Oladipo, the Heat have been able to keep winning thanks to Butler’s heroics.
“We’ve been through a lot this entire year,” Spoelstra told The Athletic. “We’re not being insensitive to when guys get nicked up or get hurt, but our group has learned to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand. We have to get the job done. We’ve had probably more practice than anybody else having to step up when guys get hurt.”
Will Julius Randle Play in Game 2?
Randle missed the last two weeks of the regular season with an ankle injury. He appeared in all five games against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, averaging 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. He only scored 20-plus points once in the series, but the Knicks were happy that he was even on the court.
“If this wasn’t the postseason, I doubt he’s even on the court,” said Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau after Game 4 against the Cavs.
Randle was more of a role player in the opening series while logging only 28.6 minutes per game against the Cavs. He was a workhorse during the regular season, averaging 25.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 35.5 minutes per game.
Randle didn’t participate in practice on Monday, but then again, the Knicks were mostly in a film session with some light shooting drills. Although Randle is listed as questionable, his status for Game 2 will be a game-time decision.
Brunson scored at least 20 points in every postseason game so far for the Knicks. He averaged 24 points, 4.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game against the Cavs in the first round.
Brunson notched the Knicks with 25 points in Game 1, but he shot 0-7 from 3-point range and was swarmed by the Heat any time he set foot in the lane.
I was horrific,” Brunson told reporters after the game. “Very uncharacteristic by me and this one’s on me. I’ve got to be better.”
Brunson also landed on the injury list for Game 2 due to a sore right ankle, but he’s expected to play.
Betting the Knicks/Heat in Game 2
The Knicks opened Game 2 as a -5.5 favorite, but the line has since moved to -6.5 after early money backed the Knicks to tie the series at 1-1.
The Knicks have the third-best betting record in the NBA this season with a 48-36-4 line against the spread (ATS). The Heat are the third-worst betting team in the NBA this season with a 35-51-3 ATS record. The Heat are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games, including the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament and the playoffs.
The Heat are now the betting favorite to win the series at -150 odds while the Knicks have slipped to +125 odds. When the series opened, the Knicks were a slight favorite at -150 odds and the Heat were a modest underdog at +125. FiveThirtyEight predicts the Heat have a 69% chance to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference finals. The Knicks have just a 31% chance to win this series.
The Knicks and Heat are both long shots on DraftKings’ NBA futures board at +2500 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship. The Heat are +550 odds to win the Eastern Conference and the Knicks are the long shot on the board at +750 odds.
After dropping Game 1 to the Heat, FiveThirtyEight projects the Knicks have only a 5% chance to reach the NBA Finals with a 2% chance to win the championship. The Heat have a more favorable prediction from FiveThirtyEight. They have a 17% chance to reach the NBA Finals with a 7% chance to win the title.
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