The New York Knicks lived to play another day with their win over the Miami Heat on Sunday. But when they play again Wednesday, Jeremy Lin almost certainly will not be playing.
“I’m not counting on him to play,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said in a conference call Monday. “That’s how it’s been here in the last month and a half and that’s how I’m preparing.”
Lin has been out since late March with a knee injury. His presence would give a boost to a roster that has been hit hard by injuries, especially at point guard.
When Lin went down, the duties of floor leader fell to veteran Baron Davis, who did an adequate job until he dislocated his kneecap in Sunday’s win. The Knicks also lost rookie Iman Shumpert, who can play the point for briuef stretches, to a torn ACL in Game 1 vs. Miami.
That left Mike Bibby and little-used Toney Douglas as the remaining point guards. Bibby will start Wednesday in Miami, Woodson said. Douglas has not played in the first four games of the series.
Lin ignited a moribund season for the Knicks when he came out of nowhere to assume the starting point guard job and create the phenomenon known as “Linsanity.” He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games.
Lin had surgery to repair a torn meniscus April 2 and was expected to miss four to six weeks. He scrimmaged last week and felt soreness in the knee, and Woodson expressed concern about his conditioning.
Lin practiced Monday and is expected to do so again Tuesday before team doctors make a decision Wednesday.
“We’ll gauge it today and tomorrow, but I’m not counting on Jeremy Lin to play,” the coach said.
The Knicks trail, 3-1, in their series with the Heat and are one loss away from elimination. The Chicago Bulls are in a similar predicament with a similar injury issue.
Already without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, who went down with a torn ACL late in Game 1, the Bulls lost center Joakim Noah to a severely sprained left ankle in their Game 3 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Noah did not play in Game 4, although he did trade in his crutches for a walking boot. However, it is unlikely he will play in Game 5 on Tuesday, when the Bulls – also in a 3-1 hole – try to avoid elimination at home.
“He’s a little better,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said at practice Monday. “He’ll be a game-time, most likely out.”
Without Noah, the Bulls collapsed in Game 3, wasting a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a 79-74 loss. They also missed him in an 89-82 setback in Game 4, when Omer Asik started at center and had one point and six rebounds in 23 minutes.
And Celtics forward Paul Pierce is questionable for Game 5 on Tuesday in Atlanta, where the Celtics can wrap up the series.
Pierce suffered a left knee injury in Sunday morning’s walkthrough, just hours before Game 4 against the Hawks. He started and scored 24 points in less than 17 minutes of a 101-79 victory but aggravated the injury when he collided with Hawks forward Josh Smith in the second quarter.
Pierce’s injury comes just as the Celtics were beginning to get healthy. Guard Ray Allen returned to play Games 3 and 4 after being sidelined since April 10 with bone spurs in his ankle. And guard Avery Bradley has been able to play through a dislocated shoulder.
For the Hawks, Smith returned in Game 4 after missing Game 3 with a sprained knee and center Al Horford also played in Game 4 after missing four months with a torn pectoral muscle. Horford had 12 points in 20 minutes and may be able to play limited minutes Tuesday.