Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — The Knicks’ season has come down to one game.
One game on Sunday at Madison Square Garden to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat.
And as much as Amar’e Stoudemire talks about the “great chance” of him playing in Sunday’s do-or-die Game 4, odds are he won’t. He’s officially listed as doubtful for Game 4.
During the Knicks’ 87-70 loss in Game 3 Thursday night — their NBA-record setting 13th straight postseason loss — Stoudemire sat on the bench with his heavily bandaged left hand in a sling after his losing battle late Monday night with a fire extinguisher.
He was helpless — utterly helpless — to help his team, which managed just 30 points in the second half.
“They are still a good team,” said LeBron James, who scored 17 of his game-high 32 in the fourth period after checking back in with four fouls. “They played some of their best ball in April when Amar’e was not in the lineup. They are a great team with Amar’e on the floor as well.
“With or without him they are a great team. They are just more powerful with him on the floor.”
Yes, it’s true the Knicks were 14-5 this season without Stoudemire and 9-4 without him in 13 games down the stretch when he was out with a bulging disk in his back.
But that team went small with Melo at the power forward and Iman Shumpert on the wing.
This team has no Stoudemire and no Shumpert or Jeremy Lin.
They are left with Anthony and J.R. Smith to lead the offense and how’d that work out?
Those two went a combined 12-for-40.
“I don’t know, man,” Anthony said. “You can’t really say what would’ve happened if Amar’e was here….Did we miss Amar’e? Yeah, we missed Amar’e. We missed Shump. Right now we can’t really [focus] on that. Amar’e’s not here, Shump is not here. The guys that’s out there playing, we gotta play.”
Interim coach Mike Woodson said it would be a doctor’s decision whether Stoudemire played Sunday, but one look at the size of the bandage on his hand and it seems improbable he’ll be able to play.
If the season indeed ends on Sunday with the Knicks’ third sweep in their last three playoff runs, it figures to be a long, brutal offseason for Stoudemire.
Fans and talk radio hosts will hold him accountable for lacerating his hand so badly that he couldn’t finish out the series.
Stoudemire tried to downplay it on Wednesday, essentially saying that everybody gets frustrated and he was just unlucky.
“We’ve been faced with adversity all year,” Stoudemire said then. “I went out. Carmelo went out. Jeremy went out. Jared Jeffries went out. We’ve been dealing with adversity all year. It’s been a heck of a year for us.”
And the Knicks are now one loss from that crazy year ending and sending them into yet another summer vacation without an NBA title.
Giving Stoudemire plenty of time to ponder how the Knicks will ever get another one.
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Photo: Miami Herald
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.