Tonight in the NBA: Stoudemire returns

Tonight in the NBA: Stoudemire returns
May 11, 2013, 10:30 am
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According to a team source, the Sixers have come to an agreement with Sam Hinkie to be their new president and general manager (see story).

The Sixers' decision to hire Hinkie shows the club is moving toward the analytics wave in sports (see story).

Now, here's a preview of Saturday's NBA playoff action:

Knicks at Pacers, 8 p.m.
Series tied 1-1

INDIANAPOLIS -- New York coach Mike Woodson believes whole-heartedly that Amare Stoudemire can make a difference against the Pacers.

He's big, strong, and, when healthy, a proficient scorer - three ingredients the Knicks can use Saturday night.

The problem is Stoudemire hasn't played in an NBA game in more than two months and will now try to work his way back into game shape during the Eastern Conference semifinals. It's a risky move, one Woodson insists is worth the gamble given the potential payoff of breaking a 1-1 series and reclaiming home-court advantage in Game 3 of this best-of-seven series as it shifts to Indianapolis.

"If I didn't think Amare was important to our team, then I wouldn't even consider that," the Knicks coach said after Friday's practice. "But Amare can still play, and I think he proved that in the short time he was back this last time."

On paper, it looks like a no-brainer.

Stoudemire gives the Knicks more scoring punch against one of the league's stingiest defenses and another big body against a Pacers team that led the NBA in rebounding during the regular season and has been the best in the playoffs, too.

What's the downside?

Without Stoudemire, limited to 29 games this season after surgeries on each knee, New York has still found ways to win. The Knicks clinched the second seed in the East and won their first playoff series in 13 years, including a 26-point win over Indiana in Game 2 to even this series.

And it's still not clear how effective Stoudemire can be. Woodson has already said he will limit his star forward to 10 or 15 minutes Saturday night, just long enough to force the team to change its rotations and potentially upset the chemistry of a group that's played pretty well during Stoudemire's absence (see full preview).

-The Associated Press

Thunder at Grizzlies, 5 p.m.
Series tied 1-1

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Grizzlies have had three days off in their series with Oklahoma City for their longest break since the All-Star weekend, more than enough time to become a popular pick to win Western Conference this postseason.

Giddy fans are tweeting about possible matchups with others wondering where a parade could be held. When the Grizzlies are out in the city, they hear from supporters with their tickets ready.

"You hear it, but we doing a good job focusing," Memphis forward Zach Randolph said Friday of all the excitement. "We don't let that get to us. We don't worry about what people say. We focus and take each game one game at a time and focus on the game."

That means Game 3 on Saturday with this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal tied at 1-1, though the Grizzlies have the next two at home along and three of the final five if needed.

The Grizzlies have won three straight on their home court in the postseason and are 17-1 going back to Feb. 8. Another sold-out crowd awaits at the FedExForum with the Grizzlies past their disappointment at missing the chance to return home with a 2-0 lead in this series.

"We've still got to do our part here at home," Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said. "We got to do our part and try to win both games at home in order for that road win to mean something."

The Thunder lost their last visit to Memphis when Grizzlies center Marc Gasol tipped in a bucket for a 90-89 win in overtime on March 20. Kevin Durant said they remain confident in what they know will be a tough series (see full preview).

-The Associated Press

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