RJ Barrett is closing in on returning to the Knicks lineup from his finger injury
The Knicks they are about to be whole again.
RJ Barrett sat through another practice Tuesday and then was upgraded to questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Pacers at the Garden.
The Knicks wing has been out since breaking his right index finger on Dec. 27, which required six stitches after his finger dislocated. But coach Tom Thibodeau said after Tuesday’s practice that Barrett has had his stitches removed, putting him in line to return to the lineup Wednesday night.
“Just being at full strength and having a guy like him, he’s such a big part of the team,” Thibodeau said.
Getting Barrett back would make the Knicks the healthiest they’ve been in more than a month — since Dec. 7, the night Obi Toppin suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right fibula. Since then, the Knicks have had to deal with injuries to Jalen Brunson (hip, three games), Barrett (finger, six games) and Quentin Grimes (ankle, one game) for different stretches, despite going 10-6 during this time.
Barrett’s injury came two games after he dropped a season-high 44 points against the Bulls, his shooting coming after a slow start. He also logged more minutes playing with the second unit, which seemed to fit in well.
“RJ, the thing is, we had to change the way we played a little bit just because of what he was providing, not just with the starters, but what he provided with the second unit,” Thibodeau said. “So we had to fill that void more than I was doing with the second unit. Hopefully we can get that back.”
Toppin could be in line for more minutes Wednesday night in his second game back from injury, after Thibodeau only used him as Julius Randle’s backup when Giannis Antetokounmpo was also benched Monday night.
“Something good,” Thibodeau said of Toppin’s first game back. “I thought the conditioning was pretty good. Just keep building off of it.”
Because of Barrett and Brunson’s injuries, Immanuel Quickley has started the last seven games, a stretch in which he averaged 20.3 points, 5.9 assists and 5.3 rebounds.
“He’s played great basketball down that stretch,” Thibodeau said. “I like it with both units. I think he complements Jalen and Julius and RJ very well. But I also like the way this group worked with our second unit when we had RJ with Deuce. [Miles McBride] and Quick, for the versatility of these three guys together. It gives you a lot of dribble. They played a lot at a high level.”
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