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Amar'e ready? Knicks 'pretty optimistic'

Amare Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks

Amare Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks walks out on the court after a time out in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (April 19, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Amar'e Stoudemire didn't come to practice yesterday, but the medical staff came to him.

To avoid making the hour drive from his West Village penthouse to the Knicks' practice facility, Stoudemire was instructed to remain at his Manhattan home, where he received medical treatment for his ailing back.

Mike D'Antoni said he is "pretty optimistic" that Stoudemire will be able to play in Game 3 Friday night after he was limited to 18 minutes Tuesday after pulling a muscle in his back during warmups.

He will attend a morning shootaround at the practice facility Friday before determining his availability. "He's had a few spasms, but I think he's feeling better today and hopefully it continues and we'll work him out tomorrow morning," D'Antoni said. "It just depends on how he moves and how he feels. When you have a bad back, we can't have him out there at half speed."

D'Antoni was less optimistic about the return of Chauncey Billups, who missed Game 2 with a tendon strain in his left knee. Billups was at practice to receive treatment on his knee. He said he had blood drained from the knee and received a cortisone shot Wednesday but doesn't know if he can go.

"I know at this point there's no way I can come back and be 100 percent," Billups said. "I know I don't have to be 100 to come back. I just want to be able to help the team and not hurt the team. If I can get to that point, then I'll be out there."

If Billups can't go, Toney Douglas will make his second straight start. He shot 5-for-16 and finished with 14 points and two assists Tuesday.

Douglas was expected to be a defensive upgrade over Billups but struggled to cover the elusive Rajon Rondo. When Rondo wasn't getting behind the Knicks' defense for easy layups in transition, he was driving with ease past Douglas, who was hampered by foul trouble. Rondo finished with a playoff career-high 30 points, and only one of his 13 field goals came from beyond six feet.

With the Knicks' frontcourt of Stoudemire and Ronny Turiaf suffering untimely injuries, more will be expected from Shawne Williams, Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker.

"We can't go out there and try to fill in for Amar'e. It's not going to happen," Walker said. "We're not going to be able to fill in for Chauncey. We're just going to have to go out there and play to the best of our abilities and get that win."

Added Williams: "You get ready the same way with superstars or without them."

The one superstar the Knicks undoubtedly will have is Carmelo Anthony, who is prepared for anything. "I'll play 48 [minutes] if I have to," he said. "It's the playoffs now. You've got to leave it all out there on the court."

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