GREENBURGH, N.Y. –– A winded and rusty Amar’e Stoudemire scrimmaged three-on-three Monday at the Knicks’ practice facility and is targeting a return on Saturday in Game 3 against the Pacers.
He won’t play in Game 2 Tuesday. The Knicks trail the series 1-0 after Sunday’s 102-95 loss.
“The only way I wouldn’t be [available for Game 3] is if I don’t recover well from today and if I don’t recover well from the following practice [Wednesday],” Stoudemire said. “If there is any setback from that, then that’ll be difficult to deal with. But hopefully everything goes well.”
Said Knicks coach Mike Woodson: “‘If he doesn’t have any setbacks he’ll probably suit up Saturday.”
Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds in 29 games this season, but has been out since March 7 with a right knee debridement. He had contact Monday for the first time when he played three-on-three.
He seemed excited and chatted up Earl Barron, who defended him, and Rasheed Wallace, the retired Knick who gave Stoudemire advice. But Stoudemire also had to sit down several times during the scrimmage.
“I feel great, I’m just tired,” he told SNY.tv during one break.
Stoudemire said it was difficult to watch the Knicks play since he cannot contribute.
“Oh, man, bad,” he said when asked how much he wanted to play. “Extremely bad, can’t take it, which is why sometimes I sit in the back and just watch the game on the TV and just rehab in the back because sitting right there on the bench is very hard for me.”
Stoudemire said he felt pain free and had no fear of returning in the midst of the playoffs.
“Yeah, there’s no fear,” he said. “Fear is false evidence appearing real, I have no fear at all.”
Asked how much impact he hoped to make on the series, Stoudemire said, “Stay tuned, stay tuned. I have no control over my impact. All I can do is just play extremely hard and display my talents on both ends of the court and we’ll see how that plays.”
Stoudemire credited the Pacers with playing “great defensively,” using their bigs to harass and hit Carmelo Anthony, who struggled during a 10-for-28 shooting performance that led to 27 points.
“You have to give them their props because they played well in Game 1,” he said. “But the playoffs is about adjustments. The series is not won in one game, it’s won in a total of four and so we’ll just see what happens.”
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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.