BOSTON -- Mike Woodson is 'hoping' that Amar'e Stoudemire will be back in the second round of the playoffs, assuming the Knicks advance.
They lead the Celtics 3-0 in their best-of-seven series.
"We’re hoping so, but we’ll see," Woodson said Saturday when asked about Stoudemire returning in Round 2. "I mean, he’s making steady progress. We’ll just have to wait and see when we get to that point.”
Woodson reiterated that Stoudemire will be back in the rotation when he returns to action. "He’s going to play, absolutely," Woodson said.
Some have expressed concern about how Stoudemire will fit in. The Knicks went 17-6 in the regular season with Stoudemire out following right knee surgery. They have won three playoff games in decisive fashion with Stoudemire on the bench.
Woodson, however, is not worried about Stoudemire's impact on team chemistry, or how his return could affect the Knicks' rotation.
"Not at all. You guys worry about that. I really don’t. I really don’t. He’s a big piece to our puzzle,” Woodson said.
Woodson has said that Stoudemire's return will not affect Kenyon Martin's minutes. Martin has been a key contributor off the bench in the playoffs.
In 29 regular-season games, Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and 5 rebounds in 23.5 minutes. He made 57 percent of his field goals.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: During the regular season, the Knicks had to play through several long-term injuries. Some of those setbacks happened in March and April, but the subsequent rest -- especially for Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler -- has helped the team bounce back at the right time. Now all of the rotation players are healthy, except for Stoudemire.
On Saturday, Chandler reflected on the weeks leading up to the postseason, saying that sitting out for an extended period of time helped him, and the team.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "While I was out, the team was able to still make an incredible run, so we didn't lose any ground. If anything, we gained ground, so being we had that time to rest and to come back 100 percent healthy for the playoffs, it's good for myself as well as other players."
Chandler said he's still recovering from the flu, which caused him to lose weight, but he's "getting closer to 100 percent."
"These three games have been my conditioning," he said. "I've been able to get up and down the court, and endure the physical play. I feel like I'm getting better and better every game."
KNICKSTAPE: When the Knicks made the playoffs, Jason Kidd and several other veteran players decided to order customized blue Beats by Dr. Dre headphones with "Knickstape" on the side. The gesture represented what the team motto is all about: unity.
"The thing with Knickstape is just us coming together and kind of creating a new generation, a new wave," Chandler said. "It's kind of a brotherhood, a fraternity and we protect one another, play for one another and it just symbolizes who we are."