The New York Knicks staved off elimination for at least one more game, but they won’t be getting the shot of good news that they were hoping for in the return of point guard Jeremy Lin.
Interim head coach Mike Woodson doesn’t expect Lin to play and attempt to save the Knicks season for the second time this season. That leaves Game 5 on the road in Miami in the hands of veteran Mike Bibby; unless something happens in the next two days that could allow Lin to play.
“I’m going at this as if he’s not going to play. That’s how it’s been here for the last month, month and a half, and that’s how I’m preparing,” Woodson said during a conference call.
“I’ve watched him shoot and run up and down. He’s not in great shape and you know as well as I know that playoff basketball, you’ve got to be at an all-time high, and he hasn’t played in a while,” Woodson said. “So I don’t know if that’s going to be a determining factor with the doctors, and the fact that he hasn’t played. I can say, yes, he looks good, but again, does he feel good? Do the doctors think it’s enough time based on the injury that he’s had to get him out on the floor? I can’t make that decision.”
There have been reports that the Knicks have been pressuring Lin to play on Wednesday, but so far there’s been no signs coming from the Knicks brass that he will be able to give it a go.
That leaves Bibby and seldom used Toney Douglas as the Knicks only floor generals for a very important Game 5.
Lin has been playing in 3-on-3 workouts after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee April 2. The Knicks said at the time he was expected to miss six weeks, meaning his season was likely over unless they reached the second round.
He was going to work out again Monday, and the Knicks will practice Tuesday. Woodson said he would prefer to see Lin go through an entire practice with full contact before seeing him in a game against one of the NBA’s fiercest defenses. But there’s just no time for that.
Even if Lin can go, fans must realize he hasn’t played in a game in over five weeks, meaning the rust will be there.
Then there’s the fact that the Heat harassed Lin into eight turnovers and 1-for-11 shooting in a Feb. 23 victory in Miami, Lin’s worst game since he assumed the starting point guard spot.
No matter who ends up being the Knicks point guard on Wednesday night, they will face a tough challenge. Someone has to rise to the occasion though and it looks like Bibby will get the first opportunity.