Knicks forward Julius Randle and head coach Tom Thibodeau talk...

Knicks forward Julius Randle and head coach Tom Thibodeau talk in the second half of an NBA game against the Hornets at Madison Square Garden on March 7. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CLEVELAND — Obi Toppin is undoubtedly a different player than Julius Randle. And with him stepping into the starting lineup for the injured Randle you would think that the Knicks might alter their game plan or style. But Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said they will not.

“No, we don’t have to change anything, because really, the offense is managed by Jalen [Brunson],” Thibodeau said. “There’s things that Julius brings that can change, give our offense a different look, just like with our second unit. There’s things we can do with them that’s different. Whoever you have — and I think this is a big part of running efficient offense is, what are the strengths of the people that you have? Play to your strengths and cover up your weaknesses."

Thibodeau said of Toppin, "OK, what does Obi do well? OK, so he runs the floor; he’s good at moving the ball side to side; he's good with dribble handoffs. There’s a lot of things that he brings. He’s a quick decision-maker. So we wanna take advantage of that part of it. But Jalen’s strengths and weaknesses are the same. RJ [Barrett’s] strengths and weaknesses are the same … And those guys have been interchangeable. So when a guy gets injured, you’re mixing and matching anyway. Obi’s played with the starters before. So just get in there and play to your strengths. Put the team first. Cover up your weaknesses … I have a lot of confidence in him and I think he’s going to play well.”

Brunson on the mend

While it is Randle who has been lost for the remainder of the regular season at best, Brunson is back and insisted that he has no limitations with his sprained right hand.

Brunson, who originally hurt the hand nine days ago in Miami and missed two games, said that he is just doing maintenance now — like the large ice pack he had on his hand following the Knicks morning shootaround Friday.

“I jammed it [in Miami],” he said of the injury. “Yeah, it just swelled up and I had to do everything I can to get it down and less painful. Everything came back negative. I’m icing it. Just icing it. It feels better. I do still have to just kind of keep it going, but it feels great.”

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