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Amar’e Stoudemire may need season-ending surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back, practically dooming the New York Knicks to an early round playoff exit.The Knicks could find out if Stoudemire needs surgery as soon as Tuesday, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
Although New York has gone 6-1 with Stoudemire out of the lineup this season, including an ugly 89-80 win versus the Milwaukee Bucks Monday, losing him for a long stretch of time would be awful news.
The team was starting to gel under interim coach Mike Woodson, especially on the defensive end, with Stoudemire being a big of part of the transformation.
Losing Stoudemire means New York loses some easy buckets, rebounding, and size on defence.
In Monday’s win against the Bucks the Knicks had to put a very small lineup on the floor. With Andrew Bogut out, New York only had to deal with Drew Gooden and Ersan Ilyasova.
The problem with this strategy is that the Knicks have a bunch of games left on their schedule against teams with formidable front lines.
Of the 16 games remaining on the Knicks’ schedule, nine are versus teams with strong front lines. They include two games each against three teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Orlando Magic.
Having Amar’e out puts tons of pressure on Carmelo Anthony to continue to play good defence. It also means Melo will have to take on a bigger scoring role as well. And what do you think he’ll focus on when the going gets tough?
Monday’s win versus the Bucks gave the Knicks a small cushion as the eighth seed, but losing Amar’e means they have an even smaller chance than before of catching the Philadelphia 76ers for the division lead and fourth seed.
Landing the No. 4 seed guarantees the Knicks won’t have to play the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls in the first round.
There’s no way New York was going to get past Miami or Chicago in the playoffs, but they were banking on not having to deal with either of those scenarios until later in the postseason. Without Amar’e it will come in the first round (they’re even further behind Atlanta for the sixth seed than they are Philly for the fourth).
Truth is, without Amar’e the Knicks might not even be able to keep Milwaukee from jumping them in the standings.
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