- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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They finished the regular season 17-9 and won their first Atlantic Division title since 1994. They also won a first-round series for the first time since 2000.
Some fear that Stoudemire will have a negative impact when he returns to the court. Not so, says coach Mike Woodson.
Woodson said Friday that he's not going to "risk" upsetting the Knicks' chemistry for the sake of playing Stoudemire in Game 3.
"It's going to be my job to weigh things out in terms of what he's looking like when he's on the floor," Woodson said. "I'm not going to risk what we've been doing, but I am going to play him just to see where he is."
In other words, if Stoudemire is hurting the Knicks, Woodson will put him back on the bench.
Stoudemire participated in a light day of shooting on Friday. Barring a setback prior to tipoff of Game 3 on Saturday, Stoudemire should suit up and play between 10-15 minutes against Indiana.
The series is tied, 1-1.
"We'll gauge it tomorrow and see where we are with him, and if he feels good then we'll probably put him in a uniform," Woodson said.
Stoudemire has not played since March 7, when he suffered a right knee injury that required surgery to clean out debris. Prior to the injury, Stoudemire was averaging 14.2 points and five rebounds in 29 games off the bench. He will continue to come off the bench in the postseason.
"I'm going to throw him in there and see what he's got and see if what he's got can help us win games," Woodson said. "That's what it's all about at the end of the day."
In the regular season, the Knicks went 16-13 with Stoudemire in the lineup and 38-15 when he was out. (Stoudemire missed the first two months of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.)
Many believe that Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are a poor fit together. The Knicks averaged 97.6 points per 48 minutes when those two were on the court at the same time this season. When Anthony was on the court without Stoudemire, the Knicks averaged 102.7 points per 48 minutes, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.
With Stoudemire on the floor, Anthony will likely move from power forward to small forward. But Woodson is comfortable with that alignment. "Amar'e can still play, and I think he proved that in the short time that he was back (earlier in the regular season)," Woodson said.
"If I didn't think Amar'e was important to our team then I wouldn't even consider [playing him]," he added.
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