Amar'e Stoudemire Targeting 2nd Round of NBA Playoffs as Possible Return Date

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IApril 23, 2013

If the New York Knicks make it past the Boston Celtics and into the second round of the 2013 NBA playoffs, expect Amar'e Stoudemire to provide a boost to the second unit. 

That's the latest from ESPN's Ian Begley, who interviewed Stoudemire prior to Tuesday night's Game 2 matchup between the Knicks and Celtics at Madison Square Garden:

"If everything goes great (with rehabilitation), then I'm willing to play," Stoudemire said. "Sooner than later, hopefully, if everything continues to improve." [...]

"Everything's on schedule for the most part. I've got to continue to get stronger, got to get back on the court, start moving around at full speed," Stoudemire said. "...And if I can handle that then we go up a notch, that's great. Then I'm looking (forward to) hopefully playing soon. We'll see."

Head coach Mike Woodson also maintained his earlier stance prior to the game, claiming that if Stoudemire is healthy enough to play in the second round, he will be part of the rotation:

"If he's able to make it back he will be back in the rotation, ready to play," Woodson said. "I'm expecting him to do what he was doing before he left because he played some pretty good, positive minutes for our ball club before he got hurt." [...]

"(A healthy Stoudemire) just adds one more good piece, great piece, to the puzzle back out on the floor as we continue this journey," Woodson added.

Stoudemire has played in only 29 games this year because of his nagging right knee, averaging 14.2 points and shooting 57.7 percent from the field in just 25.5 minutes a contest.

It's unclear what player the Knicks would deactivate to make room for Stoudemire on the active roster in Round 2, where New York would catch the winner of the Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks series.

Kenyon Martin has stepped up big in Stoudemire's absence, providing an emotional and physical impact to the second unit, allowing Woodson to use Chris Copeland and Steve Novak in different lineups as necessary. 

One major concern to a potential Stoudemire return is the age-old question when the playoffs hit—how will team chemistry be affected? It's certainly hard enough to return to an NBA lineup after an extended absence, even without the intensity of the postseason factored in.

Stoudemire hasn't played since March 7, undergoing surgery to clean up debris in his right knee on March 11. He holds career averages of 21.3 points and 8.6 rebounds, numbers that jump to 23.0 and 8.9 in the postseason. 

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