HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Jeremy Lin‘s season is most likely over.
The Knicks announced Saturday that Lin will undergo surgery next week for a “small chronic torn meniscus” in his left knee. The injury will keep Lin out of action 6-8 weeks, so the only way we’ll see him again this season is if the Knicks win a playoff series. And that probably ain’t happening.
In fact, there’s a very good chance that the Knicks don’t even make the playoffs. And that possibility has little to do with whether or not they have Lin … or Amar’e Stoudemire, who’s out 2-4 weeks with a bulging disc in his back.
Through Saturday’s games, the Knicks hold a two-game lead in the loss column over the Milwaukee Bucks. But Milwaukee holds a clear schedule advantage down the stretch and host the final meeting between the two teams on April 11.
The Knicks do have some momentum, now 9-2 under interim coach Mike Woodson after Saturday’s win over Cleveland. But it’s impossible to get a real gauge on how they will play in April because they’ve been so streaky throughout the season, sometimes playing their best basketball when their roster was most depleted.
Here’s the thing: the Knicks’ best offensive player, Carmelo Anthony, and best defensive player, Tyson Chandler, are still (relatively) healthy. Lin and Stoudemire are both defensive liabilities, so as long as Chandler is on the floor, the Knicks will be fine there (though it would help if Jared Jeffries returns soon).
The numbers thus far show that the Knicks are clearly better defensively when Stoudemire’s not on the floor…
Knicks efficiency with Carmelo Anthony on the floor
|Anthony + Lin + Stoudemire||417||98.7||99.1||100.6||-1.5||+4|
|Anthony & Stoudemire, no Lin||495||95.6||98.7||102.9||-4.2||-34|
|Anthony & Lin, no Stoudemire||88||96.3||110.9||98.1||+12.9||+22|
|Anthony with neither||433||95.7||101.8||90.7||+11.1||+84|
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
The absence of Lin and Stoudemire might not be so awful offensively, either. It will certainly simplify things on that end, because Anthony has yet to really show much chemistry with either player. Anthony just needs someone to bring the ball up the floor and have a couple of guys to knock down shots when he draws the defense’s attention.
With Lin out, it would be nice if Baron Davis was completely healthy and a little more nimble … or if Toney Douglas had some confidence left after sitting for the last two months. But make no mistake about it, this is Melo’s team now. And whether or not the Knicks make the playoffs will largely depend on his ability to carry the offense, while also providing some effort defensively.