Wednesday May 9 7:00 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat
Game 5 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 3-1 Heat Series Lead
The Knicks were able to stave off elimination once Sunday afternoon, and look to do the same tonight in Miami against the Heat. The Knicks will need their big players to step up tonight as the team is again ravaged by injuries. Again facing elimination, the Knicks will need to come out with a lot of energy and intensity to match a Heat team looking to end their season.
Baron Davis is facing a 12 month rehabilitation after MRI's on his knee came back worse than expected. Davis suffered tears of his ACL and MCL in addition to a partial tear of his patella tendon. It is a devastating injury for anyone to have, but even worse for someone the age of Davis.
The injury means yet another change will be made to the starting lineup, with Mike Bibby getting the call. He played great in relief of Davis Sunday afternoon in a thrilling Knicks victory and hopes to replicate that performance tonight. Bibby cannot play 40 minutes, so look for Toney Douglas to possible see some playing time, along with J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony at times taking over ball handling duties.
Amar'e Stoudemire will also be in the starting lineup again. He suffered no setbacks after Sunday's game, but will still be limited because of the huge wrap he will have to wear on his hand to protect his stitches.
There was a lot of whispers that Jeremy Lin would be back in time to play this series, but that is no longer looking likely. Lin says his knee does not feel more than 85% strong, so he is not willing to push it. He is more than likely out for the remainder of the series. This is a smart move on Lin's part and by the team, as the future outlook of Lin is much more important that a game or two this series against Miami.
-Bench Needs To Produce
The Knicks will need a spark from their bench tonight if they want to compete. The Knicks bench is much more potent than the Heat bench with J.R. Smith and Steve Novak. They will need big performances from those two on the offensive side of the ball to keep this series alive.
Another person to keep an eye on off the bench if Josh Harrellson. He provides energy and toughness to a second unit that is lacking because of all the injuries. One area Harrellson helps a lot is on the defensive end of the court and the glass. With Jared Jeffries still nursing an injured knee, he has not been able to have the impact the Knicks had hoped for on the series. Harrellson is capable of providing that impact and more if given the opportunity.
-Bibby Turns Back the Clock
Mike Bibby will be making the start tonight and for the foreseeable future for the Knicks after the Knicks have lost Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis all to injury. He will shoulder the point guard duties tonight for the most part. The veteran presence that Bibby brings to the court is a good addition to the Knicks. He will fill the void left by Davis while also being able to still control the offense. The only extended minutes Bibby has received was in Game 4 over the weekend and he stepped up huge for the Knicks, knocking down clutch shots in the 4th quarter. The Knicks have to hop for much of the same tonight if they want to get the series back to New York for Game 6.
-Stars Stepping Up
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire combined for a monster game Sunday afternoon, and the Knicks will need more of the same tonight. They should go to their offensive juggernauts early and often and try to get them going right from the start.
Anthony carried this team to the playoffs without a consistent sidekick throughout the month of April. The Knicks will count of him to set the tone for the offense as they run everything through him. If Mike Woodson and his staff are able to tweak their game plans by getting Anthony into better positions to score for himself and set up his teammates it would greatly help the team.
Stoudemire gave a spirited effort on Sunday afternoon, showing a lot of heart playing through the self-inflicted injury on his left hand. He was aggressive on the boards and gave great effort on the defensive end even though he was limited. The Knicks will need another game like that from Stoudemire to help take pressure off Anthony on the offensive end and Tyson Chandler on the defensive end and on the glass. Stoudemire has become the x-factor for this team; if he plays well tonight, the Knicks have no reason to think they will not be playing Friday night back at the Garden.