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Knicks delay the inevitable, but set up a chance for another run at Linsanity

By Royce Young | NBA writer
The Knicks need Jeremy Lin right now more than ever. (Getty Images)

Back in March, it felt like Linsanity was a story manufactured by a Disney imagineer. But with the Knicks' Game 4 win, the story might've been set up for quite the ridiculous climax.

The Knicks are light on point guards all of a sudden as Baron Davis appears to be done for at least the rest of the playoffs with a brutal knee injury. Iman Shumpert is already done. Toney Douglas might as well be. All New York has left is Mike Bibby.

And Jeremy Lin.

If there was ever a chance for this story to get even more storybook, here it is. The Knicks are down 3-1 after winning their first playoff game in more than a decade, breaking a 13-game postseason losing streak. They're playing the mighty Heat. Their backs are to the wall, they've suffered major injuries and their scraping for their playoff lives. Andby winning Sunday, they've opened up the possibility that Lin can return from knee surgery a few weeks ago.

Lin has been out since the beginning of April with a knee injury with his initial timetable being six weeks of recovery. It's been about four and a half right now, but Lin has been practicing and trying to get back on the floor. With a couple more days of rest and rehab, and the fact the Knicks are desperate, it could just give him a shot to get back on the floor.

"Don't know," coach Mike Woodson said when asked about Lin. "I really can't answer that. I'll be back in the gym tomorrow and talk to doctors and see where they are physically and we'll make some decisions."

There are reports though that Lin is optimistic he could return for Game 5. Obviously it's a wait-and-see type of thing, but with Game 5 being Wednesday, that's three days of extra rest for Lin to maybe get ready. It sounded like there was a chance for him being available for Game 4, but he experienced some soreness in the knee after going through drills Thursday.

"I haven't been able to load it or jump or explode or drive by somebody the way I want to, so it's going to be longer than that," Lin said recently. "I really don't want to say I am or am not [returning]. I just want to take it day by day. Game 4 doesn't look great. Game 5, I have no idea."

The question is, should Lin rush back? Is it really worth it? The Knicks just delayed the inevitable Sunday in forcing another game, as there's really no way Miami doesn't close this thing out. So why hustle Lin back if it's really not going to make a difference? Especially if it could mean risking further injury that affects next season? That's the common sense line of thinking, but these are professional athletes that crave these moments. Try telling them to settle down and not hurry back. What makes sense to everyone else doesn't always hit home with them. They want to play. It's what they're paid to do. It's what they live to do. It's not smart, but it doesn't matter.

Plus, I don't think you can necessarily just assume he'll kickstart Linsanity again against the Heat. Lin played Miami once this season, right at the peak of Linsanity, having one of his worst games going 1-of-8 from the floor for eight points, with only three assists to eight turnovers. The Knicks need him badly at this moment because of, you know, Mike Bibby, so anything he could give would be big. Even if he's not entirely 100 percent.

The Knicks play on in this postseason and while Game 4's win might've appeared to be on the meaningless side of things, getting an 11-year monkey off your back has to feel good. That alone is worth extending this series. But that, plus the chance at another run of Linsanity and the hope of one more week that defies belief and reason, makes Game 4 that much more meaningful.

Lin's rescued the Knicks once before. His two-week run that set the NBA on fire put the Knicks back in the playoff conversation and pulled them out of a rut. Injuries had knocked both Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire out and the team was sputtering. Lin stepped in, stepped up and lifted the Knicks to a higher place, if only for a short time. Could he do it again? It almost seems a little too perfect, doesn't it?
 
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