With a playoffs matchup against the Celtics guaranteed, the Knicks have opted rest Amar'e Stoudemire for the season's final few games.
The burden of the Knicks' impending success was on Stoudemire's shoulders all season long, and he was experiencing ankle pain as of late as well. The pain is said to be minor by an array of sources, including Stoudemire himself, who asserts that he could play if the team needed him too.
Better safe than sorry is what the people always say, but the Knicks have nevertheless gone 2-1 in his absence, with the sole loss coming against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls last night. The team has been playing well, and Coach D'Antoni has taken advantage of giving role players more minutes in hopes of forming a more concrete rotation come playoff time.
The Knicks will close out their regular season tonight ironically against their first-round opponents. The game would serve as a perfect playoff preview, for the exception of Stoudemire once again being inactive.
The Knicks' rationale not to play Stoudemire in the regular season finale is understandable, giving how much more is actually at stake in the days and even weeks to come. That being said, the game could have answered questions and and shored up any doubts or concerns about how the Knicks will match up to the Celtics. Having STAT play would give the Knicks' the most accurate projections and could give Coach D'Antoni insight as any type of last minute adjustments he and the team may or may not need to make.
There's so much at stake for the Knicks, now that a playoff appearence is once again finally here after seven long years. The risk of playing Stoudemire may be incredibly high, but might it also be in the team's best interests when it comes to figuring out exactly how to beat the Celtics and advance further into the playoffs?
What do you think? Is a more accurate playoff matchup projection worth the risk of playing STAT tonight? Let me know on Twitter @KnicksJournal.