An Easter miracle?
"Modern medical miracle," Mike D'Antoni said. "I don't know."
Whatever it is, Amar'e Stoudemire went from talking his way out of playing yesterday to bounding out to the court for his pregame workout looking ready to go.
"I feel pretty good," he said in the locker room before his pregame workout. "I am on Advil right now to disguise the pain a little bit, but I feel pretty good. Not 100 percent, but good enough to play."
[Marketing opportunity with Advil in 3....2....]
D'Antoni came to the Garden this morning with the belief that his all-star power forward, who suffered a pulled muscle in his back during warmups in Game 2, would not play in today's Game 4 against the Celtics. Then Stoudemire came to him with a message to the contrary.
"He said he wanted to try it, he wanted to play," D'Antoni said.
The coach explained that with the Knicks facing elimination and a sweep down 0-3 in this best-of-seven series, the team couldn't afford another experiement. He played 32 minutes in Game 3, but admitted he was in a great deal of pain throughout the game and was barely a factor in the blowout loss, which put the Knicks on the brink. Many look at Game 4 as a matter of paperwork, as the Knicks are heavily overmatched against Boston without Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups.
But the Knicks want to at least avoid the embarrassment of a sweep and a reasonbly healthy Stoudemire can help them. But if he's only out there as a warm body, it's better off he sits this one out.
In other words, to quote the great Jedi philosopher, Yoda, "There is no try. Only do or do not."
"He said he's sure he feels good," D'Antoni said. "So we'll do it."
Stoudemire at Saturday's practice talked much less optimistically about his availability for Game 4 and pointed out several times that the normal recovery time for this type of injury is three weeks. He also spoke about concerns he had of causing further injury by playing through the pain.
But, again, on Sunday his tone was much different.
"I felt relief, actually knowing the back is still getting better as I play," he said. "It gave me a sign of relief that I can't further injure it."
He said contact in Game 3 was a concern, but for Game 4, he plans to take the action right at the Celtics.
"I'm going to look forward to the contact today," he said. "It's going to be an interesting game."
While Advil got a special shout-out, Stoudemire also credited an afternoon coach potato session as a big part of the healing process.
"I didn't do anything yesterday except for lay on my back and just watch TV pretty much all day," he said. "I have a biowave, that kind of massages your back. I put that on for an hour at a time, take an hour off and then put it on for about an hour. Just a lot of rest. I think that helped a lot."
He'll still likely have to play through some pain, but it won't hurt as much as it would to sit out and watch his team get swept out of the playoffs.
"It would have been hard," he said. "The only way I was going to sit this one out is if I couldn't walk."