The Knicks are clearly shorthanded in the backcourt, with Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, and Jeremy Lin all sidelined due to various knee injuries.
As a result, the team's starting point guard in tonight's game five matchup against the Heat in Miami will be veteran Mike Bibby, who only appeared in 39 regular season games.
Though he's starting merely by default, Bibby has a plethora of postseason experience with teams like the Kings and Hawks. What's more, he's continued to play the right way as he's inched his way back into the Knicks' rotation. Not only does he space the floor by forcing the defense to respect his jumper, Bibby also finds his teammates on the floor while still keeping his turnovers to a minimum.
Bibby, who will turn 34 on Sunday, is by no means flashy and has lost a lot of quickness in his game. Nevertheless, the Knicks can rest assured the veteran will contribute by making smart decisions on the court.
Perhaps a more worrisome factor of tonight's game will be the impact of Toney Douglas, be it positive or negative. Like Bibby, Douglas will likely be thrust into some big-time moments on the hardwood during this crucial game for the Knicks.
Douglas, who frustrated fans with his crash and burn trial as the team's starting point guard earlier this season, was shunned to the bench shortly after. Though he only played in a total of 38 games, the young guard was dusted off and logged two strong outings in April: a 15 point, 6 assist effort in a decisive 96-80 win against the Magic on April 5th, and a 6 point, 6 assist, 9 rebound effort during an all the more embarrassing 98-90 loss to the Cavs on April 20th.
After three seasons donning orange and blue, the Knicks understand what Douglas can do, but also what he clearly cannot. With that said, his days running the floor are clearly over, having been ever so short-lived in the first place. Luckily for New York, there's more to his game than his inability to pass the ball effectively.
By asserting Douglas in the game tonight, Coach Mike Woodson will assert he has faith in him knocking down jump shots. The fact of the matter is though Douglas may have failed miserably as a playmaker, by no means has he failed as an NBA player. His role tonight (one he should be very familiar with, having filled it in the past) will be to attempt to provide the Knicks with a boost off the bench.
New York's bench production has undoubtedly been lacking this series, with the Heat neutralizing Steve Novak and J.R. Smith displaying a rather erratic shooting touch. In addition to Carmelo Anthony's offense, the Knicks have been riding and dying on Smith's scoring output. As high as he can elevate the team when he's hot, that's how low Smith can in fact sink his team if he's cold. Neither Novak or Smith can be relied upon in this decisive game.
And that's where the Knicks hope Douglas can step in and fill a much need scoring void. Even Bibby proved to make a positive impact off the bench with his occasional jumper, so if Douglas can follow suit, perhaps he and Bibby can together can help New York balance their offensive attack.
The Knicks need help in a pinch, and though the pressure is on Douglas, all he needs to keep in mind is that less is more when it comes to helping his team. Nothing else is needed but knocking down a few jump shots. He has the ability to do that.
What Coach Woodson has to keep in mind, however, is when to pull the plug if necessary. If Douglas is able to get things going offensively, he'll do wonders for the Knicks. But if he is unable to find his jumper, Woodson needs to sit him right back down. In such a crucial game, there's no time to encourage Douglas to keep shooting until he finds his rhythm.
With little to no other options, it's understandable why New York wants to roll the dice with Douglas. Shoot for the stars and see what happens, but keep him on a short leash.