GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Amar'e Stoudemire is determined to have a positive impact this postseason for the Knicks even if his time will be limited -- for real this time.
Mike Woodson said Stoudemire was overextended when he returned from left-knee surgery earlier this year. Stoudemire is expected to return from March right-knee surgery in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday night in Indiana. Woodson said Stoudemire would play 10-15 minutes, "if that," and he would have to manage his expectations.
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"We talked about it way back when he had the surgery, what we expected from him based on him coming back," Woodson said after practice Thursday. "I think we might have pushed him too much early on. So we got to be really cautious this time with him and make sure we're doing the right things with him. Not that we didn't think that when he came back the first time, but this time we really got to be cautious. He understands."
Stoudemire still hasn't gone five-on-five since his last game, March 7 against Oklahoma City. He played three-on-three Monday and went four-on-four Thursday. Both times he was guarded mostly by Earl Barron.
Stoudemire isn't sure if he'll scrimmage Friday, so his first real action could be Saturday night when the best-of-seven series resumes tied 1-1.
He needed several games to work out the rust and get his timing back the last time he returned from knee surgery. Stoudemire won't have that luxury now but isn't concerned.
"I'm expecting to just contribute the best way I can," Stoudemire said. "I don't have time to find my rhythm. It has to be ready from the start. And that's what it's going to be."
Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points in 29 games off the bench and was playing his best basketball just before he needed to undergo a right-knee debridement.
He scored 22 points in back-to-back games, leading the Knicks over Cleveland and Detroit. He was on a 30-minute time limit then, but with Carmelo Anthony sidelined, Stoudemire played 32 and 31, respectively.
Two days later, Stoudemire played 29 minutes in a one-point loss to the Thunder and hasn't played since.
But Stoudemire is confident he can play whatever minutes Woodson wants now, and said he doesn't need to temper expectations.
"No, I expect to play at a high level," Stoudemire said. "Despite injuries, still I'll be working, and definitely work toward becoming a great player again."
The Knicks could use another big body against the Pacers, whose size was a problem in Game 1. The games being spread out could help Stoudemire. Game 4 isn't until Tuesday and Game 5 is Thursday.
"It's a great opportunity for him to be out there and give us a scoring presence on the block," Tyson Chandler said. "We could really use him right now and he's been looking good so far."
"I don't think we or he are expecting [him] to come out and play 20, 30 minutes and score 15, 20, 30 points," Anthony said. "If he can help us, which we know he can, he can do that."
Stoudemire signed a five-year, $100-million deal in 2010, signaling the Knicks' first step back to respectability. But his role is different now. It's Anthony's team. Still, Stoudemire believes he can make an impact.
"My teammates know what I can bring to the table," Stoudemire said. "I've been doing it my entire career. To be here in the postseason could definitely be helpful for the whole team."
Notes & quotes: Raymond Felton was not at practice because of personal reasons. Woodson said Felton would return Friday.