In what should only help an already loaded bench, Josh Harrellson and Iman Shumpert will make their return from injury on Wednesday night when the Knicks host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Both seemed to have no ill effects. We’ll see in the game and stuff. Basically we’re good. They will play tomorrow,” D’Antoni said.
Shumpert has the missed the last three games because of a knee injury he suffered during New York’s win over the Mavericks on Feb. 19th. The Knicks defense has suffered a bit during the absence of Shumpert going 1-2 in the three games. Shumpert’s absence was most evident when Deron Williams lit up New York with 38 points with eight three pointers in the Nets 100-92 victory last Monday night.
The rookie from Georgia Tech has proven to be a valuable defender on the perimeter by averaging two steals a game. He gave Kobe Bryant all kinds of fits the night Jeremy Lin lit up the Lakers for 38 points. Shumpert played the majority of the game on Kobe and was a big reason why the great Byrant shot a putrid 11-29 for the night.
Harrellson is the only player on the roster who has not been on the floor for Linsanity. He has not played since fracturing his wrist back on Jan 21st in a loss to the Denver Nuggets. The return of Harrellson gives them another big body to help spell mintues for Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. He has done a nice job on the boards averaging 4.3 in only 18 minutes of action.
It’s always nice to have an extra big man, but it’s Harrellson’s ability from three point range as the reason why he should be able to get some solid minutes off the back. A big part of D’Antoni’s offensive gameplan is being able to knock down the three point shot on a consistent basis. New York has been anything but consistent from beyond the arc this season ranking 27th in three point field goal percentage.
Harrellson is currently shooting 35 percent for the year from beyond the arc. However, that was before he had the services of a true point guard who could create open shooting space for the big man. The hope is that Harrellson can flourish the same way Steve Novak has since Lin became the point guard.
Novak, who had not seen much action before Linsanity, has been outstanding in the 12 games Lin has played in shooting 46 percent from three point range.
The former Kentucky Wildcat hopes to get his chance to shine but Coach D’Antoni admits that will be pretty tough for the moment.
“It’s not humanly possible to play 12 guys in a normal rotation. Ten probably. Eleven maybe,” he said. “That’s how we have to do it. We’ll see how injuries go, who’s playing well. The idea is you got to be ready because who doesn’t play today might play tomorrow.”
No matter what D’Antoni decides to do with the rotation, there is no question his team will be a little better and much deeper tomorrow night when they step on the court to face the Cavaliers.