The New York Knicks sound hopeful that Jeremy Lin’s return to the lineup may come sooner than later.
Lin did some on-court work in Miami for the fourth consecutive day, before the Knicks lost to the Miami Heat on Monday night in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
Game 3 isn’t until Thursday in New York. The Knicks plan to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and that could give them time to get a better feel for how Lin’s recovery from surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee is going.
”We haven’t run up and down in terms of being able to scrimmage or anything like that,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. ”And that’s where the test is going to come. When he’s got to cut and guard people and push and do things of that nature, that’s the big test. And we don’t have time to practice like that. We really don’t. So basically all he’s done is drills and he’s shot the ball a lot here as of late, but only time will tell.”
Lin was inactive for Game 2 against the Heat. The Knicks made one change to their starting lineup, with Landry Fields listed among the first five after guard Iman Shumpert was lost for six to eight months with a torn ligament in his left knee after a non-contact injury in Saturday’s series opener.
Tyson Chandler was also in the lineup for the Knicks after battling flu-like symptoms for several days, along with Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis, who has been dealing with back soreness all season. With Davis hurting and Shumpert gone, Lin, if healthy, would figure to be a boost to the New York backcourt.
Lin said Sunday that he did not want to commit to a timetable for returning, noting that he’s still been unable to do some of things he would need to in game situations. Monday marked four weeks since his surgery, and the team originally expected his recovery to be a six-week process.
Lin averaged 14.2 points and 6.2 assists in 35 regular-season appearances with the Knicks. He started 25 of those games, averaging 18.2 points and 7.7 assists in those contests, including a brilliant run in February when Lin, shortly after being inserted into the lineup, scored 114 points in his first four starts and 163 in his first six, making the former Harvard guard an NBA phenomenon almost overnight.
The Knicks were 15-10 with Lin as a starter in the regular season, 21-20 when he was either coming off the bench or not in the lineup.
”He shot (Monday), went through some halfcourt offensive sets that we had put in,” Woodson said. ”So he’s moving around. When he decides to play, I don’t really know at this point. We’ll probably have a better feel once we get back to New York.”