Kemba Walker was sidelined again Sunday afternoon with a sore left knee, although Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau clarified that it was a concession to the reality of the load of back-to-back games.
Walker, who was not subjected to back-to-back sets last season with the Celtics, has been sporadic in attempts to play through his knee issues this season. After a rest day was followed by nine games of a coach’s-decision benching, he returned for six games that included a back-to-back set. Then he was shut down for nine games with a sore left knee before returning for two games.
"Yeah. He’s likely [to play Monday at Cleveland]," Thibodeau said. "Again, there’s no set thing to it. It’s whatever the medical people feel, what he feels, and try to manage it as best we can. We want him to feel as good as possible."
Noel back — but for how long?
Nerlens Noel was active and effective Sunday, but he might carry more uncertainty than Walker on his fragile knees.
Entering Sunday, Noel had played in only 18 games this season and just once since Dec. 21. Asked if he will need to manage Noel through knee soreness or if this means he really is back, Thibodeau said he doesn’t know.
"Yeah, I wish I had the answers for that," he said. "I don’t. Every time he gets going, something happens. So hopefully this time he can get a run of some games together."
Noel had eight points, seven rebounds and three steals in 26:18.
Reddish gets his feet wet
Cam Reddish made his first appearance with the Knicks, entering with 6.7 seconds left in the first quarter and playing 5:23. He scored two points on a reverse layup.
"The one thing is just trying to establish a routine," Thibodeau said. "When we were playing well, we pretty much had a nine-man rotation. But when I have opportunities to get him in, I want to get him in. And it was good just to let him get his feet wet a little bit. He’s working really well in practice. So just day by day, stay ready. You never know in this league; you can have an injury, you can have whatever. So the next thing you know, you’re in there and you’re playing. I look at a guy like Quentin [Grimes]. He benefited from everyone being out, got in there, played well and he’s still in there. So whoever gives us the best chance to win, that’s who we’re going with."