With both Chauncey Billups and Amar'e Stoudamire questionable for Game 3 tonight, and possibly for the rest of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics, someone needs to step for the Knicks. It's obvious that New York will need another phenomenal game from superstar Carmelo Anthony. But for New York to revive this series at the Garden, they need someone else to step up.
That someone would be Toney Douglas.
The second year backup had an inconsistent Game 1, scoring eight points in 26 minutes while shooting 3-of-8 from the field. He followed that up with a 14-point performance in Game 2, but allowed the offensively-deficient Rajon Rondo to score a career high 30 points in a 96-93 Knicks loss.
However, there is efficiency for the Knicks when Douglas is on the floor. During the regular season, in the 20 games Billups started at point guard, New York averaged 106.3 points and shot 43.8 percent from the field. When Douglas was the main distributor, they scored 109.4 points on 50.5 percent shooting.
Billups has like what he's seen from Douglas.
"He's fearless," Billups said. "That's something a lot of young players aren't. He listens, he's tough and he's a competitor. He's ready for an opportunity like this."
Douglas is assertive and aggressive, which can be both a gift and a curse. The Knicks need him to push the pace, which he does wonderfully, but do it with composure and control which will allow him to find open teammates on the break. Consistent guard penetration in the paint will make the game easier for perimeter shooters like Landry Fields and Carmelo.
While Douglas needs to run the offense, his defense—which is his strength—needs to improve as well. It's bad enough that New York has to contend with Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. Allowing Rondo to go off for 20 or 30 points essentially eliminates the Knicks' chances of winning this series.
When healthy, the Knicks are a very talented team. It's a shame that injuries have piled up in the first two games of the playoffs, leaving Melo to right the ship. Douglas will have to be the spark if they want to pull out a Game 3 victory.
"We've got to take care of business," Douglas said after the Knicks Game 2 loss on Tuesday. "We're gonna be ready on Friday."