The injury-riddled New York Knicks aren’t relying on Jeremy Lin to return in two days as the team tries to avoid elimination from the National Basketball Association playoffs.
Lin, who last played on March 24 and had surgery in early April to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, probably won’t return for Game 5 of the best-of-seven series with the Miami Heat, according to Knicks coach Mike Woodson. New York trails 3-1 in the series.
“I’m not counting on Jeremy Lin to play,” Woodson told reporters today on a conference call, a day after New York beat the Heat 89-87 while losing point guard Baron Davis to his own knee injury. “It’s going to be up to the doctors and Jeremy to make that decision. It won’t be my decision. I guess we’ll gauge it as we go along.”
Lin, the second-year player out of Harvard University who made a surprise rise to the team’s starting point-guard role in February, is getting treatment and will be further assessed when the Knicks practice today and tomorrow in New York before flying to Miami.
The absence of practice time has made it difficult for Woodson to assess Lin’s readiness to return to game action, and the coach said he’d never tell someone to play before he was able.
“I can’t be that selfish and say, ‘Son, put on a uniform and play,’” Woodson said. “I just can’t do that.”
Amar’e Stoudemire returned to New York’s lineup yesterday after cutting his hand while punching a fire-extinguisher case in frustration following Game 2. The forward-center scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
With guard Iman Shumpert sustaining a season-ending knee-ligament tear in the series opener, the possibility of Lin’s return became more important after Davis dislocated his knee cap in yesterday’s win, probably ending his postseason.
Davis was removed from the Madison Square Garden court on a stretcher during the third quarter after falling to the floor while planting his foot on a fast-break drive to the basket.
The 33-year-old Davis, who is having more tests done on the knee today, played in 29 of the Knicks’ 66 games during the lockout-shortened regular season. He signed in December and didn’t see his first action until Feb. 20 because of a herniated disk in his back.
“I spoke with him after the game and he was in great spirits,” Woodson said. “Baron’s a trooper, man. The one thing he said was, ‘Hey, I tried to give you all I could.’”
The depleted roster will leave Woodson relying on veteran Mike Bibby to start Game 5. Third-year player Toney Douglas, who has been used sparingly since Woodson took over the team in mid-March, also could see playing time.
“I haven’t buried Toney, by any means,” Woodson said. “I know I haven’t played him but, again, I can’t play everybody.”
The Heat could use a big lineup with Shane Battier and Mike Miller joining All-Stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Woodson said that might lead him to counter with J.R. Smith or Carmelo Anthony handling point guard for the Knicks, who will be trying to force a sixth game back in New York on May 11.
“There’s a possibility when they go big, we can go big,” Woodson said.