The injury news concerning the two Knicks starters who limped off the court with ankle injuries in Friday night’s game was mixed Sunday.
On the plus side, guard Jalen Brunson went through practice with the team and is expected to start Monday night against the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden, although he was listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain.
On the minus side? The Knicks listed Mitchell Robinson as out for the game because of left ankle inflammation.
Robinson suffered his injury late in the first half of the loss to the Celtics and had an X-ray at halftime that came back negative. He didn’t start the second half and played only 4:49 after intermission.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice Sunday that he didn’t know if Robinson’s injury could be a long-term issue.
“He’s being examined by the medical people,” Thibodeau said. “So until we get the report, it’s just speculation.”
The 7-foot center has played every game this season, but that streak will end Monday, which means Isaiah Hartenstein will get his first start of the season. Hartenstein has played well as a reserve, averaging 5.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game.
“I felt all along that one of our strengths was at that position,” Thibodeau said. “The way Mitch has been playing, the way Isaiah has been playing — actually, the way Isaiah has been playing, he’s deserved more [time], but it’s just the way it unfolded.
“Also, Jericho [Sims], we forget he’s sitting there. And Jericho played very well for us last year. And he’s done a good job of staying ready. So it’s next man get in there. I think we have more than enough.”
Neither Robinson nor Brunson was made available to talk to reporters after practice on Sunday. Robinson did tell reporters after Friday’s game that he thought he was fine.
“It’s a long season, guys in and out of the lineup. Injuries are part of the game,” Josh Hart said. “Whenever someone is out, it’s an opportunity for others to step in and other roles to be increased.”
The news could have been much worse for the Knicks if Brunson’s injury had been serious. He left the court and headed to the locker room after stepping on Payton Pritchard’s foot with 21 seconds remaining. Some questioned what Brunson was doing in the game in the final minute of a blowout, but that issue likely will take a back seat as attention turns to Robinson’s injury.
Thus far, the Knicks (12-9) have had four of their top five players — Brunson, Julius Randle, Immanuel Quickley and Robinson — available for every game.
Monday’s game against the Raptors (9-13) is an important one. The Knicks, particularly on defense, need to bounce back from losses to Milwaukee and Boston in which they allowed 146 and 133 points, respectively. After Monday’s game, they will play eight of their next 10 games on the road, and nine of the 10 will be against teams with winning records.