So, Tom Thibodeau does understand the concept of minute restrictions, after all. In the New York Knicks’ first preseason win over the Celtics on Monday, Jalen Brunson (6) and Julius Randle (13) played a combined 19 minutes. Typically, that duo averages 39.9999 minutes per game.
It’s stating the obvious, but in a preseason contest where Boston rested all five of its starters, there wasn’t a need for Brunson and Randle to play heavy minutes. The former represented Team USA at the FIBA World Cup over the summer, and the latter returned from an offseason ankle injury.
Brunson and Randle did well in their limited minutes, combining for 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. The starting point guard making a brief appearance in the first quarter allowed Immanuel Quickley to steal the show, as he finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting in 23 minutes.
New York’s next preseason game will be on Saturday, and maybe Brunson and Randle will see more minutes then, but don’t count on it. Randle was asked about Brunson’s low minutes after the win, and his response couldn’t have been more perfect.
Julius Randle jokingly calls out Tom Thibodeau after Knicks’ first preseason win
Last week, Tom Thibodeau voiced his support (subscription required) for the NBA’s new Player Participation Policy meant to curb load management. Thibodeau has never been known to rest healthy players unless it’s an end of the regular season game that won’t impact the final standings.
In Julius Randle’s four years in New York, he’s averaged 35.2 minutes per game. Last year, he was on pace to play in all 82 games before he sprained his ankle against the Heat with five games left in the regular season. Randle entered training camp fully healthy and said it felt good to play on Monday.
As for Jalen Brunson, he averaged exactly 35 minutes per game in his first season with the Knicks. In the postseason, that number jumped to 40.3 minutes per game, while Randle’s playoff average decreased to 33 minutes per game because of his ankle issues.
Brunson and Randle should enjoy their limited minutes while it lasts because the Knicks will be back at the Garden hosting the Celtics on opening night in a little over two weeks.
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