The Knicks announced this morning that not only will Jeremy Lin miss tonight's game at home vs. the Magic, but Amar'e Stoudemire will also be sidelined for the next two to four weeks while undergoing non-surgical treatment for a bulging disk in his back.
Stoudemire received confirmation from a Miami doctor that such type of treatment, which will include an epidural steroid shot, is necessary as the Knicks star looks to recover in time to help the Knicks' playoff run.
Stoudemire hasn't been the dominating M.V.P like figure he emerged as last season, and that in turn has hurt the Knicks as they've struggled to play consistent basketball. Though he's lacked much of the explosiveness that has helped him succeed in the past, Stoudemire had begun to find some rhythm (along with the rest of his teammates) under new coach Mike Woodson.
While many had originally thought Woodson's offense would feature Carmelo Anthony in isolation, the Knicks have instead spread the scoring around. As a result, Stoudemire hasn't had the immense pressure of having to be a go to scorer. He still only averaged a lower than expected 18 points per game in March, but looked much more relaxed, letting the offense come to him. Not forcing much, STAT excelled, shooting an impressive 56% from the field this month.
His absence will not only damper the Knicks' moral, but also take away from what they do on the court. Because his points have come conveniently in the flow and ease of the team's offense as of late, they will now aim to make a seamless adjustment in hopes of not missing a beat during this crucial time.
That may be more difficult to do considering Lin will be out for the short-term as well. In addition to being the team's third leading-scorer, Lin assembles the offense quite nicely. His own absence will be felt, perhaps even heavier than Stoudemire's, because the Knicks lack someone who can truly hold down the fort.
Lin proved during initial LINsanity that he could emerge as a dependable scorer in wake of Stoudemire and Anthony's joint absence last month. Furthermore, the Knicks also have reliable bench scorers such as J.R. Smith and Steve Novak who can increase their offensive production, should they be looked to. Finding efficient scorers during Stoudemire's forthcoming absence should not prove to be too tough.
Filling Lin's void, however, will prove to be more difficult should he out longer than this weekend. Lin's emergence came because the Knicks did not have any other options at point guard. With him sidelined, the alternatives still remain quite slim. Baron Davis now stands as the starting point guard, but he himself is limited in what he can do. Coach Woodson still insists there is a (30) minutes cap on his time on the court, though Davis did in fact play 33 in the team's win against the Bucks on Monday.
His nine turnovers certainly represented a frustrating statistic, but the Knicks have proven with Lin running the point that they can overcome such constant possession changes. That said, Davis needs to make intelligent decisions on the court as he gets more fatigued. He has to find his teammates in the open floor, rather than forcing up arrant shots of his own. His poor shot selection results in more missed opportunities than his turnovers. Perhaps it would be better for him to attempt to make a pass more often (even if he should not convert on it), rather than hoisting up extra shots.
Coach Woodson has asserted that in an effort to make things easier for Davis, Toney Douglas will in fact be getting minutes on the court to spell him in Lin's absence. Though Douglas has been shunned to the bench since failing to be an efficient floor general earlier in the season, perhaps he is poised to succeed with the Knicks in need of some extra offense. If he is looked upon to hit a few open shots, rather than distribute the ball, he could stand to give the Knicks that old familiar boost.
The team will look to overcome obstacles tonight as they take on the Magic with the Garden crowd on their side.