November 30, 2023

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Josh Hart injury update: Knicks guard doubtful for Game 2 vs. Cavaliers with sprained ankle

Josh Hart injury update: Knicks guard doubtful for Game 2 vs. Cavaliers with sprained ankle
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Josh Hart is doubtful for Game 2 of the New York Knicks’ first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, the team announced on Monday. Hart is dealing with a sprained ankle he suffered in Game 1. 

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that Hart participated in “parts of practice” and the team will see how he feels on Tuesday before making a final decision. “Usually with sprains like that it’s more how you feel the next day. He said he felt fine in the game and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Thibodeau said.

Late in the fourth quarter of Game 1, Hart went up for a rebound after Donovan Mitchell missed a floater and landed on Julius Randle’s foot. His left ankle rolled severely and he stayed on the ground for a brief period after Jarrett Allen tipped in a go-ahead bucket. 

Despite being in serious pain, Hart not only remained in the game but hit the biggest shot of the night on the ensuing possession. With the shot clock winding down, Hart got the ball at the top of the key and had to make something happen. He pulled up for a 3 right in Cedi Osman’s face and buried it to put the Knicks back in front for good. 

Hart finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting in 33 minutes off the bench in what was another impressive showing since he joined the team at the trade deadline. His hard-nosed, defensive-minded approach and versatility on the perimeter seemed to make him a perfect fit for a Thibodeau team, and he’s been even better than expected. He routinely closes games, takes on tough defensive assignments and gives them a bit of extra playmaking on the wing. That he’s shot over 50 percent from 3-point land since arriving is a major bonus. 

All of which is to say that if Hart can’t play in Game 2 it will be a major loss for the Knicks. With him this season, including Game 1, the Knicks are 18-8, and without him, they are 30-27. That’s about as big of an impact as a non-star mid-season acquisition can make. 

If there’s a silver lining for the Knicks it’s that Hart’s heroics already helped them steal Game 1, so they’re playing with house money in Game 2. While they would, of course, love to take a 2-0 lead back to Madison Square Garden, they’ve guaranteed at least a split in the first two games in Cleveland and now only have to win their home games to take the series.