NBA: New York Knicks at Miami Heat
Sam Navarro / USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle's is expected to be ruled out of Game 1 of the New York Knicks' second-round series against the Miami Heat, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Randle is dealing with a sprained ankle, which he re-injured in Game 5 of the Knicks' first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers

"He didn't do much today, but he's feeling a little bit better," Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said on Friday. "He'll go through the rehab, see where he is tomorrow. He's better today than he was yesterday, and that was the big thing, so we're hopeful.

"He did some cardio work in the pool and lift and some spot shooting. We'll see where he is tomorrow, but he moved well today... Just hopeful and we'll take it day by day."

Randle initially injured his ankle on March 29, ironically during a regular season game against the Heat, when he came down with a rebound and landed on Bam Adebayo's foot. He sat out of the remainder of the regular season, then made his return in Game 1 against the Cavaliers. 

He was not himself in the series, though, averaging 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and three assists on a woeful 33.8 percent shooting from the field. Then, during the team's Game 5 win, he once again twisted his ankle. Late in the first half, he contested a shot against Caris LeVert and again landed wrong. He went to the locker room and did not return. 

Based on Thibodeau's quotes, it seems likely that Randle will play at some point in the series, but not in the first game. It's also not clear how effective he'll be, assuming he does get on the floor at some point. If he wasn't fully himself after tweaking his ankle once, it's hard to imagine he will be in this series after doing so a second time in the span of a few weeks. 

Without Randle, the Knicks are going to need Josh Hart and RJ Barrett to step up on both ends of the floor. That duo's play in the final three games of the first round is a major reason the Knicks were able to close out the Cavs despite sub-par performances from Randle. They'll need more of the same as they try to slow down Jimmy Butler and get back to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2000.