ESPN 5-on-5: Knicks-Heat Game 5
Tom Haberstroh, Mike Wallace, Brian Windhorst, Jared Zwerling and I wax balletical about tonight’s #MILPCAT, Phase 2:
1. Fact or Fiction: The Knicks were smart to hold Jeremy Lin out.
Jim Cavan, Knickerblogger: Fact. Look, we get the whole Willis Reed resurrection narrative thing. But Lin ain’t no Reed, and these ain’t no 1970 Knicks. Besides, I’m not totally convinced that a 60% Lin is any better than whatever 100% point platoon the Knicks end up going with. Better to wait until next year. We Knick faithful are used to that anyway.
Tom Haberstroh: Fact. This was fascinating to watch because the organization needed to weigh the short-term payoff vs. long-term risks. Play him now and try to fight your way back into the series at the risk of another knee injury? Sit him and ensure that you have a healthy point guard on the roster for next season? They chose the latter and that was the smart decision; the realistic upside in playing him just isn’t there.
Michael Wallace: Fact. If Lin isn’t ready to return from that knee injury, then he simply isn’t ready. No need to rush it, especially after seeing two of his backcourt teammates blow out their knees already in this series. It just doesn’t make sense to risk setting yourself back for the start of next season in order to play in a series that seems all but over at this point.
Brian Windhorst: Fact. This is a complete no brainer to be honest. Let’s assume you’re Lin. Your knee doesn’t feel right, probably more than you’re even letting on to the media. Then you see Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis have to be carried off the court in the same week. Are you going to rush it?
Jared Zwerling, ESPN New York: Fact. First of all, Lin hasn’t had ample court time to prepare for the Heat’s swarming pick-and-roll defense, which forced him into eight turnovers on Feb. 23. In addition, playoff games, in general, are a different beast. In recent scrimmages, Lin has moved a bit gingerly and hasn’t played with full intensity, so there’s no way he’d ready for that level of physicality. After a season with so many injuries, the Knicks would look stupid if Lin suffered a setback for a vain cause. They should invest in his health to make sure he’s their long-term solution at point guard.
Beyond his work for KnickerBlogger, Jim is a contributor to the New York Times Off the Dribble NBA blog, ESPN.com, and The Classical. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, titled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.