The Knicks’ first postseason game-day in eight years has arrived, and in case any fans were worried – or superstitious – breakout star Julius Randle’s hairstyle is on point for Game 1 against the Hawks.
After little-used guard Theo Pinson assured fans Friday on social media that he would make sure Randle got his customary braids done in time for the series opener, the All-Star forward and Most Improved Player finalist allowed before Sunday’s game that braiding his hair “might be” a superstition for him after all of the success he and the Knicks enjoyed during their 41-31 regular-season finish.
“Theo won’t let me slack. If it’s not a superstition for me, which it might be, it definitely is for my teammates, it definitely is for Theo,” Randle said with a laugh after the team’s morning shootaround. “So I guess Knicks fans don’t have anything to worry about, because Theo said if my hair is ever not braided, he’ll braid it himself.”
The 26-year-old Randle appeared to be in a good mood Sunday morning before his NBA playoff debut, adding that he was “very excited” to get started after a full week of preparation and to play in front of a home crowd at the Garden expected to exceed 15,000 fans, easily the most in this pandemic-affected season.
“It’ll be a lot of fun to open up the series here. Really excited for that,” Randle said. “We’ve just got to have game-plan discipline. We’ve got to take every game one game at a time, be in the moment.
“Every possession matters, so we have to have a certain level of focus and intensity about us. And realize at the end of the day we’re playing basketball. We know it’s the playoffs — quote-unquote, more pressure, whatever it is. We’re playing basketball. We played playoff-style basketball all year with how we’d come into games prepared. And it’ll be the same [Sunday night].”
The Knicks hadn’t played since winning their final two games last weekend against Charlotte and Boston to seal the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and improving by 20 wins over last season (21-45) under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau.
“We had an unusual amount of time to prepare,” Randle said. “But also time for me, I had time to recover and get my body right, make sure I am prepared for the series. It’s going to be a war, it’s going to be a battle. We’re looking forward to it. You know, it’s longer than usual and we wanted to get back on the court. Everybody is ready to get back on the court. We’re happy it’s finally here.”
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