INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers will most likely have their defensive stopper back for their very first-round playoff matchup against the New York Knicks.

Isaac Okoro, who missed the final six games of the typical season with a sore left knee, took element in some make contact with portions of practice on Thursday and it seems he’ll be prepared for Game 1 on Saturday.

Okoro is Cleveland’s most effective perimeter defender, and his presence will be a lot more required than ever against a New York group that likes to get players in offensive isolation matchups — particularly on the wings.

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff remained vague about Okoro’s availability, saying only “we’ll see” when asked if he was encouraged by his progress the previous two days.

Having said that, Bickerstaff was incredibly clear about what the 22-year-old compact forward does for the Cavs, who are a single of the league’s prime defensive teams.

“There’s an power that he supplies the group when he’s carrying out Isaac factors, and you go back and just watch film and you marvel at the way he can just preserve himself in position and is normally in the play,” Bickerstaff stated. “There’s no screening action. There’s no misdirection that can get him out of position and it is entertaining to watch and he’s elite at it.”

Okoro got in some added shooting practice Thursday as the Cavs had a lighter exercise than the earlier day in hopes of staying fresh for what they hope is a lengthy postseason run.

Okoro final played on March 26, when he was on the floor for just nine minutes as the Cavs beat Houston to lock up their very first playoff spot considering the fact that 2018. The group has been somewhat secretive about Okoro’s injury.

Okoro missed the March 31 game against the Knicks — New York star Julius Randle was also out with a sprained ankle, and his status for the series remains unknown — and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson erupted for a profession-higher 48 points.

The Cavs are counting on the six-foot-five Okoro to at least slow Brunson.

“It’s a single of Isaac’s strengths defending a guy like that,” Bickerstaff stated. “Obviously, Brunson is a heck of a player. He’s really talented and has verified to be clutch in the brightest moments, but these are the challenges that Isaac accepts and he loves.”

And his teammates appreciate what Okoro does for them defensively.

“It tends to make it less complicated, particularly in choose and rolls,” stated center Jarrett Allen, who also missed the current loss to the Knicks. “He’s generally guarding the guy that handles the ball the most, so it is not like the guy is going to blow previous him.

“It’s not like he’s going to give the guy an open lane to the basket. So that assists me be in a position to loosen up a lot more and rely that it is going to be a two-on-two defense.”

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