52° Good Afternoon
52° Good Afternoon

Playing Amar'e will be a balancing act for Knicks coach

Amar'e Stoudemire looks on during a game against

Amar'e Stoudemire looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. (Feb. 10, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - If Amar'e Stoudemire is in uniform for Game 3 on Saturday night, then he will play. The Knicks have made that much clear.

As far as what happens after Stoudemire steps onto the court, it's anyone's guess.

Before the Knicks traveled to Indianapolis on Friday, ready to resume their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series that is tied 1-1, coach Mike Woodson acknowledged that there's uncertainty as to what Stoudemire might be able to give the Knicks.

Stoudemire hasn't played in a game since March 7 and is coming off his second knee surgery in seven months.

But Woodson said he is eager to find out what kind of impact Stoudemire might provide.

"It's my job to weigh things out in terms of what he's looking like when he's on the floor," Woodson said. "I'm not going to risk what we've been doing, but I am going to play him just to see where he is."

Woodson said Stoudemire had a "light day" in practice Friday after going four-on-four with teammates Thursday.

He said the power forward will be re-evaluated at their shootaround Saturday, but all indications at this point are that the Knicks expect him to play.

"If I didn't think Amar'e was important to our team, then I wouldn't even consider that," Woodson said. "But Amar'e can still play. I think he proved that in the short time he was back this last time. Our bench, we were productive with him coming off the bench doing what he needs to do."

In 29 games this season, Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in 23.5 minutes off the bench. And even in limited minutes, he could be a useful big body against a Pacers team that features one of the league's biggest front lines.

Stoudemire has spent the postseason on the bench keeping notes on a clipboard for the coaching staff, a way to keep himself engaged in the ebb and flow of these games.

That's one reason why Woodson isn't too concerned about whether Stoudemire will be able to mesh with his teammates on the floor.

The coach already has pledged to limit Stoudemire to 10 to 15 minutes, and Stoudemire has said he expects to play at a high level during that time.

Asked if he expects to play Stoudemire on the court at the same time as Carmelo Anthony, Woodson said: "Right now, he's in that second rotation, and that second rotation when he was playing early on was when Melo was on the bench. We just got to weigh that out as we go along, too, and see where we are."

Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton both said Stoudemire has looked good in practice, though they know there's a difference between going full speed in practice and in a playoff game.

And no one knows how Stoudemire will be able to physically handle that transition until the moment arrives.

"He's been out for a while, so it's just going to take some time to get back in the rhythm of things," Kidd said. "It's going to be tough, I think, because his minutes are going to be limited, but just to have him back gives us an extra big body that we need."

Notes & quotes: Kidd said he isn't concerned about going scoreless for 141 minutes spanning his last six games. "I don't have to score to win," he said. "That's not my game. My game is get my teammates the ball and play defense and if the shot presents itself, take it, make or miss." Kidd hasn't scored since the first quarter of Game 2 against the Celtics. He's taken only 14 shots since then and missed them all . . . Raymond Felton said that the ankle he twisted in the third quarter of Game 2 is back to 100 percent. "It's OK. I'm good," he said after practice. Felton missed practice Thursday for personal reasons, but it's likely that his ankle also could have used some rest. The point guard has been a big key to the Knicks' postseason run; he is averaging 16.9 points and 4.8 assists in the playoffs.

With Barbara Barker

New York Sports