New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle has praised Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler as both players battle ankle injuries in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Randle said he had “a lot of respect” for his rival, who he knows will be “locked in and engaged” in the series regardless of his injury. Butler missed Game 2 with a right ankle injury, while Randle was also forced out of Game 1 by an ankle injury, adding to his woes after he was originally hurt at the end of the regular season.
Randle revealed that his recovery process had been difficult both physically and mentally, saying it had “taken a toll” on him and his family as well as the organization. However, he stressed he had received great support from his loved ones and colleagues. The Knicks believe Butler will find a way to play in Game 3, with Thibodeau saying the team would be prepared for his return. Randle has impressed the coach with his commitment, echoing Butler’s approach when Thibodeau worked with him in the past.
The Knicks will face the Heat in Miami on May 6, with Butler’s appearance to be confirmed. Despite Randle’s praise for his rival, there is no let-up in the determination of either team, with New York looking to overturn a 2-0 defeat in the series. With both teams eager to progress to the conference finals, the series is sure to be fiercely contested, with the players’ efforts potentially adding to their later recovery time.