Even if the Knicks advance to the second round of the playoffs, injured center Mitchell Robinson likely won’t be close to being available.
Robinson had surgery on a broken foot on March 27.
The Knicks never announced a timetable for his return nor did they declare him officially out for the season, leaving it slightly open-ended.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau won’t use the words “he’s done” — probably because he won’t discount the possibility this magical squad will make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“Just basically the same,’’ Thibodeau said of Robinson’s rehab. “He’s still several steps away. He’s doing well overall. Good, steady progress. We’re not taking any chances with him. He’s got to go step-by-step. He’s doing a little bit, but not much. Then the first step is doing individual stuff, then he has to be cleared for team practices. We’re just going to be patient and go through the process.’’
The Knicks have been using a defense-oriented center tandem of Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson. Nerlens sprained his left ankle with 6:00 left in Game 1 and had to leave, forcing Gibson to finish. But Noel was slated to start Game 2 on Wednesday despite being limited in practice.
The Knicks also have third-string center Norvel Pelle, whom they signed after Robinson went down. He’s a shot-blocker and will be used if there are health issues with Noel.
Hawks center Clint Capela is a forceful presence, putting the Knicks at a decided disadvantage. Former Knicks coach David Fizdale once called Robinson the second coming of Capela.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms responded to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who railed about Trae Young’s penchant for “hunting’’ for fouls in a bizarre press-conference rant. De Blasio accused Young of not “playing the right way.’’
The Atlanta mayor tweeted back: “@TheTraeYoung isn’t looking for whistles, just WINS. We got one @BilldeBlasio. How’ bout you??’’
Julius Randle made the startling revelation, after winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award on Tuesday, that he ran out of gas in the second half of Game 1 because he was too full of adrenaline entering the contest. Now that his playoff debut is history, Randle said he had to pace himself as he looks to rebound from a dreadful 6-for-23 outing.
“We’re very confident,’’ teammate Derrick Rose said of Randle’s ability to bounce back. “We know what type of player he is. He’s a hard worker. It’s up to us to tell him certain things, how they’re playing him, how they’re forcing him certain ways, different sides. He’s just has to read the game. It’s his first time in the playoffs. He loves the game. He’s a student of the game. So we’ll look at film to figure it out.”
Game 3 shifts to Atlanta on Friday, where State Farm Arena will seat up to 16,000 fans.