Vogel: Stoudemire’s Game 3 return only strengthens the Knicks
The Pacers will likely have another All-Star to contend with when their second round series against the New York Knicks continues Saturday night in Indianapolis. Knicks coach Mike Woodson expects to play Amar’e Stoudemire, who’s been sidelined since mid-March, about 10 to 15 minutes. It would be Stoudemire’s first game action since March 7.
Stoudemire, a six-time NBA All-Star, missed the final 23 regular season games, plus all eight playoff games to this point while recovering from right knee debridement, a surgery to clean out the knee. He had the same procedure done on his left knee before the season, which kept him out the first 30 games. Woodson told reporters on Thursday that he believes they may have rushed him back earlier the season, so this time they’re proceeding with extra caution.
“If he’s feeling pretty good, we’ll put him in a uniform and see what he can do for us,” he said.
As you can expect from a professional, the 6-11, 245 lb forward is eager to join his teammates on the floor. He participated in full contact four-on-four scrimmaging during Thursday’s practice in New York. His conditioning isn’t a factor because he’ll likely play just a handful of minutes.
Friday is slated to be a recovery (and travel) day and they’ll track how his right knee responds. Should he suit up on Saturday, he’ll lean heavily on his experience.
“I’ve been in the playoffs my entire career, I’ve been in battles with the best players to play the game,” Stoudemire said. “I’ve played alongside a lot of great players as well. So I know what it takes to be ready for the postseason and hopefully I’ll be ready for Game 3.
“I’m expecting to just contribute the best way I can. I don’t have time to find my rhythm. It has to be ready from the start. And that’s what it’s gonna be.”
His return gives the Knicks “another guy that can flat-out play and will flat-out score the ball,” according to Pacers coach Frank Vogel. “He’s somebody you have to account for. It should only strengthen them.”
Where they’ll have to account for him is both in the post up and pick-and-roll game. He has the ability to knock down a mid-range jumper after setting the screen or rolling to the hoop because of his athleticism.
From a player’s perspective, veteran power forward David West said they’re not going to worry about it.
“We got to focus on what we can focus on,” he said. “Regardless of what they do is not going to change what we do and who we are.”
Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and five rebounds per game in 29 contests this season.