As the New York Knicks advance to the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, they could be as healthy as they have been all season long.
Fresh off of their first playoff series win in 13 years, the Knicks could add another weapon off of their bench as injured forward Amar’e Stoudemire is likely to make his return to the lineup against the Indiana Pacers.
Stoudemire has been ruled out for the first two games of the series, but with a long layoff between Game 2 and 3, that could benefit STAT as the Knicks are targeting a Game 3 return for him.
The plan is for him to scrimmage on Thursday and if his knee responds well to that, he will scrimmage on Friday as well.
If there are no setbacks, Stoudemire will likely make his return for Game 3 on Saturday.
“If he feels fine after Friday, then I think we will play him Saturday,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson told ESPN’s Ian Begley.
Stoudemire’s return could benefit the Knicks against the Pacers, who have a distinct size advantage over the Knicks.
Right now it is unknown exactly how Stoudemire will be used, but Woodson also noted that his return wouldn’t effect the minutes given to Kenyon Martin, as K-Mart has become the first big man off the bench and a key contributor to Woodson’s rotation.
In all likelihood, Stoudemire coming back will affect the minutes given to Steve Novak the most.
There are also chemistry concerns as the Knicks played their best basketball of the season once Stoudemire left the lineup, finishing the regular season 17-6 and winning their first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
But despite the concerns, you have to think the Knicks would be better with STAT a part of the regular rotation.
He was playing pretty well before he was injured. In 29 games, Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and made 57 percent of his field goals. If they can get that type of production off the bench from him, the Knicks will be pretty dangerous.
In addition, having the extra big body could allow Woodson to play two bigs at once against the Pacers. That’s something he hasn’t had the luxury of being able to do.
Stoudemire has been sidelined since March 7 with a right knee injury and underwent a procedure to clean out debris in the knee on March 11. The original timetable was four to six weeks, which has long passed.
But even though it took a lot longer to get STAT back into the mix, his potential return will be a welcome sight to Knicks fans.
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