NBA Playoffs 2011: Will Amare Stoudemire Injury Ruin New York Knicks' Upset Bid?
Is the New York Knicks' NBA Playoffs 2011 Momentum in Jeopardy?
The Associated Press reported this morning that Knicks star power forward Amare Stoudemire will miss a third straight game when New York heads the Boston to play the Celtics tonight.
Stoudemire is nursing a sprained ankle, suffered on April 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers; trying to block a shot, he stepped on 76ers forward Thaddeus Young's foot.
Obviously, the timing of the injury is horrible for the Knicks. After a nightmarish stretch of nine losses in 10 games, they reeled off a seven-game winning streak to lock down the Eastern Conference's sixth seed, setting up a matchup with the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics.
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Forget about tonight's regular season showdown at the TD Garden: The superstars probably wouldn't play a full game anyway since seeding has already been determined.
But how about the Knicks' chances once the games start to matter again this weekend?
Stoudemire's injury puts the Knicks in serious trouble against the Celtics in the first round, but less trouble than you might think. Without Kendrick Perkins and with a beat-up Shaquille O'Neal, the Celtics will rely more and more on Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett to defend Stoudemire in the paint. They are capable of doing so, but would be a lot better off with more muscle off the bench. They're probably putting a lot of faith in Nenad Krstic to contribute.
Even on a sore ankle, Stoudemire at 80 percent is going to be able to score. The key is how the ankle holds up over the next two weeks.
This series seems destined to go the full seven games, and if Stoudemire doesn't suffer any setbacks in the recovery, he'll be able to complete the upset. It won't be anything near "Willis Reed-like," but TNT or ESPN or whoever is broadcasting the game will thoughtlessly make the parallel.
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