The Knicks are coming home.
Friday marks the first time New Yorkers will get to pack Madison Square Garden for the first time in a decade after natives from NYC filled the Mecca to watch the Indiana Pacers fight the Knicks back in 2013.
Yes, Atlanta visited MSG back in 2021, but COVID-19 forced the franchise to limit the assistance back then, making it impossible to fill every seat. Not this time, though, with the Knicks hosting Cleveland for what has become a best-of-five series between the no. 4 and the no. 5 seeds in the East.
The New York Knicks practiced on Thursday at their Tarrytown, NY, facilities and everything went as smoothly as it could with no Knickerbockers hitting the official injury report released by the team late yesterday and ahead of Friday’s game.
Tom Thibodeau said everyone was healthy in practice today. Also said Randle is ready to go back to his usual rotation. He's been subbing out five-ish minutes into first quarters for conditioning reasons. Randle just turned from a sprained left ankle.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 20, 2023
Here is some of the stuff reported from Tarrytown entering Game 3, scheduled to tip off at 8:30 ET on Friday at MSG.
Julius Randle on Jarrett Allen’s recklessness, personal feelings, and MSG’s atmosphere
Not that I need to remind you about it, but Randle suffered a murder attempt on Tuesday with 2:22 left to play in Game 2 after getting assaulted by a reckless Jarrett Allen.
No ill feelings, though.
Julius Randle is asked if Jarrett Allen's foul was a dirty play:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 20, 2023
"It doesn't even matter at this point. My ass hurts, my elbow hurts, but I gotta get ready to play for tomorrow. I'm ready to go." pic.twitter.com/KuQq2yExYE
“My ass hurts, my elbow hurts, and I’ve got to get ready to play for tomorrow...” Randle said when asked about his thoughts on Allen’s play being a little bit dangerous. “So it don’t matter at this point. I’m ready to go.”
Truth be told, Randle was beaming through his presser. It was simply wonderful to watch, candid, and comforting. He even joked that his kids “beat him up worse,” making it clear that he’s “built for these kind of battles.”
Randle said after practice that the reason for him to be fit and not hurting from that type of play is “putting so much time in the weight room, putting a lot into my body for recovery and stuff like that.”
Keeping it upbeat, Randle said it’s all fun for him these days. ”I’m just having fun, man, this is a lot of fun. I can’t lie,” he told the media. “This is what you work so hard for. For me, it goes back to our team, all the work that we’ve put in, in the summer, individuals. That’s what this is about. So I’m excited.”
Randle also revealed that he feels like he is “on a second season” after he missed nearly 20 days with his late-season ankle injury. “It was a little bit of a break for me with my ankle, but I feel like I’m in a whole different season than earlier this year. So I feel refreshed,” Randle said.
"I'm having the most fun that I've had in my 9-year career in the league. ... This is what you work so hard for."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 20, 2023
Julius Randle on how much he enjoys the challenge of the playoffs: pic.twitter.com/iPw4Hw3toF
Randle kept going: “I’m probably having the most fun that I’ve had in my nine-year career in the league,” he said.
“Just the game-to-game adjustments, the gamesmanship, the intensity, all that different type of stuff. It’s fun for me because it’s a test on my mental, which I feel great. I don’t know. I just enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge. I look forward to it. I’m excited,” Randle said while never stopping flashing a wide smile across his face.
Asked about the vibes we can expect at MSG on Friday and Sunday when the Knicks will be hosting Cleveland for Game 3 and Game 4 of their first-round series, Randle never doubted the presence of the Knicks fanatics.
Randle thinks the crowd “can be good or bad, depending on how you use it,” although he is sure the fans “are going to be on our side” and that “it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“MSG’s going to be rocking,” Randle started. ”I’m pretty sure it’s going to be hard to talk, the floor’s going to be shaking, all that different type of stuff. It’ll definitely be a cool atmosphere to play in.” The All-Star forward thinks “you’ve just got to stay poised out there, be in the moment, and realize what you have to do.”
It’s simple for Randle: “The game is still the same. It’s still the same game, regardless of everything that’s going on out there.”
Quentin Grimes on stepping up going forward
Two things that most Knicks fans have been talking about after the first two games against the Cavs are RJ Barrett’s shooting struggles... and the minimal role played by second-year guard Quentin Grimes.
Grimes only took six shots through the first two games and most avid watchers out there think he should just go all-in and take on a larger role whether Thibs gives it to him or not.
The youngster talked to the media after Thursday’s practice, acknowledging that “everybody wants to get more shots” and revealing that he along with the coaches have studied “where I could’ve gotten more opportunities in the first game, where I could’ve slid more into the corner, come off a ball screen.”
Grimes added that things were “a little bit tougher,” mostly because of “how they were playing and blitzing everything.” Grimes said that he was “trying to make the right play,” and he promised he’ll be “more aggressive” through the next two games.
Game 3. MSG. Tip-off at 8:30 ET. Don’t miss it.