Derrick Rose wasn’t the only guard to suffer a devastating knee injury on the first day of the NBA playoffs. New York Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert tore his left ACL and lateral miniscus in his team’s Game 1 loss to Miami, an injury that instantly made a possible first-round upset of the defending Eastern Conference champions an even greater long-shot.
Now the Knicks desperately need a backcourt boost to spark an offense that managed just 67 points in Game 1.
Someone like Jeremy Lin, perhaps?
The second-year point guard has been sidelined while recovering from left knee surgery but on Sunday was on the court cutting and moving laterally. And while his status remains unclear, Lin hopes to return as soon as Game 4 on Sunday.
“I think I’m gonna evaluate it at the end of the week and see,” Lin told ESPNNewYork.com after Sunday’s practice. “Hopefully I’ll feel good by then ... the main thing is to be able to play without thinking about (the injury).”
The Knicks originally targeted a six-week recovery period for Lin, which would not make him available until the second round. But after struggling to run on his knee last week, Lin played one-on-one on Saturday and was encouraged despite some discomfort.
“I could do a lot more than I thought I could (on Saturday),” Lin said. “... It kind of happened really fast.”
Should he be able to return to the court during this series, Lin’s lack of conditioning would limit his playing time significantly. And after watching Rose’s gruesome injury, New York would be wise to play it safe with an eye to the future.
But with the Knicks already overmatched and center Tyson Chandler (flu) and guard Baron Davis (back) less than 100 percent heading into Monday’s Game 2, the team could certainly use a jolt of energy like the one Lin provided during the team’s regular season run. The key question, however, is will the series last long enough for Lin to provide it?
Of course if LeBron James and the Heat play like they did Saturday and New York continues to shoot 36 percent from the floor, it may not even matter. Right now, the Heat look like a team on a mission, and with Rose out for Chicago, there may be no team in the East capable of stopping them.