The Knicks are in a bit of a quandary for Wednesday’s Game 5 against Miami. Not only are they facing their second straight elimination game, down 3–1 in the series; they’ll be without the services of injured point guard Baron Davis. Davis left Sunday’s game with a dislocated right patella.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson has already announced that veteran guard Mike Bibby will get the start in Davis’s absence, but Bibby certainly can’t play the whole game.
During the regular season the soon-to-be 34-year-old broke the 30-minute barrier just twice during the regular season in averaging just 2.6 points and 2.1 assists per game—far and away career lows for someone who was one of the best in the league at his position a decade ago.
Fortunately for the Knicks, Bibby is at his best in the clutch. The Arizona-alum led the underdog Wildcats to the National Championship in 1997, as a freshman. Five years later his fearless play against the vaunted Lakers in the conference finals officially put him on the map of the NBA’s best point guards.
When he’s not on the floor though, or if he can’t turn back the clock against the Heat, here are the Knicks’ options:
1. Play Toney Douglas, if healthy. Douglas has not played at all this series, partly because of an unspecified illness and partly because Davis, Bibby, and Jeremy Lin had passed him on the depth chart.
Pros: Douglas is quicker and a better defensive player than the slower Bibby. If healthy he should be well-rested since he hasn’t seen the court since April 20.
Cons: Douglas is not a great offensive player. He hit just 32.4 percent of his field goal attempts on the season, and that includes playing meaningful minutes in December and January. Also his prolonged absence from the court might mean he’s fresh, but there should be plenty of rust as well.
2. Rush Jeremy Lin back into action. Lin has been out since March 24 and is recovering from knee surgery.
Pros: When healthy he’s the best point guard on the roster after his breakout season this year. His play-making skills especially would come in handy in a series where the Knicks offense has often looked stale. In addition, the energy he brings to the court would nice change of pace for Mike Woodson’s club.
Cons: There is a school of thought that says anytime you bring a player from a prolonged absence back into a team’s regular rotation—no matter how good they are—it requires an adjustment period before the team gels together again. Lin, who has missed 21 of the 28 games that Mike Woodson has been coach would definitely require an adjustment period. In addition, with the team just one loss away from a first-round playoff exit, it may not be wise to test his surgically repaired knee at this time. If they were in the finals, that would be another thing.
3. Put Carmelo Anthony at the point.
Pros: Woodson already wants the ball in Anthony’s hands as the offense goes through him anyway. Plus his height (6’8″) at the position would create matchup problems for the Heat defensively. The Knicks could put him alongside J.R. Smith (6’6″) or Landry Fields (6’7″) at shooting guard with Steve Novak (6’10”) and Amar’e Stoudemire (6’10”) at the forward positions and Tyson Chandler (7’1″) at center. The lack of quickness would be mitigated by their rebounding advantage and the likelihood to be able find a favorable post-up opportunity at nearly every individual matchup on the floor.
Cons: Having Carmelo at the point is not a lineup the Knicks have put on the floor this season and might require a little adjustment for the team to get used to. The Heat would also have an opportunity to speed up the pace of the game with a smaller lineup.
What will happen: Bibby will go for about 35 minutes, Douglas will give him a 5-minute breather, and Mike Woodson will try Carmelo (and maybe even J.R. Smith) at the point the rest of the time, while Lin continues to rehab.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.