MIAMI – Jeremy Lin realized two days ago that his hopes of making a first-round playoff appearance were growing dim.
Lin, the Knicks’ point guard sensation, had been making steady progress in his recovery from knee surgery, testing himself in drills and three-on-three games, with the goal of joining his teammates in their playoff battle against the Miami Heat.
That possibility was officially ruled out after Lin’s last workout, on Monday, when team officials concluded that his knee was not ready for the strain.
”I tried to take off, tried to plant, just go full speed at 100 percent,” Lin said Wednesday, as the Knicks prepared for Game 5. ”It didn’t feel right. I felt pain when I tried to take off.”
Lin said team doctors told him: ”I need to be able to just trust the knee. And right now there’s some tightness and soreness. And I need to get that out obviously before I can be 100 percent.”Although the team ruled out Lin for the rest of this series, he was considered on track to return in the second round, if the Knicks made it. That is consistent with the original prognosis, which called for Lin to miss the first round after having a meniscus tear repaired April 2.
Lin thought he might beat that schedule and was encouraged after playing some one-on-one April 28. But his knee has been sore after every workout, and he has yet to be cleared by the medical staff for five-on-five, full-contact activity.
”When I worked out, I was probably going 80, 85 percent,” he said, referring to the April 28 workout. ”I just figured in a week, I might be 100. But there was nothing to set it back. It’s just, I think to get from 85 percent to 100 percent takes more time than I may have thought.”
Lin was the Knicks’ starting point guard for 25 games before injuring his knee. The Knicks have since lost their entire starting backcourt – Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert – to knee injuries in this series, increasing the pressure for Lin to return.
”Every time I watch a game, right after a game ends, the only thing I can think about is playing in the next one,” Lin said. ”It’s tough. But the vets, they always tell me, make sure I make the right decision, make sure that the knee is 100 percent before I try to do something, especially the speed and physicality of the series.”
Asked if his main concern was whether he could be effective or whether he risked reinjuring the knee, Lin said, ”It’s probably both.” He added, ”I’m mostly worried about just not having to suffer a real setback, which would be another injury.”
As much as the Knicks need reinforcements in the backcourt, it is unlikely that Lin would have made much of an impact in this series. He has not played a game in more than six weeks. And the Heat thoroughly shut him down the last time he played against them.
Dwyane Wade, Miami’s star guard, said that Lin was making the right decision. He praised the Knicks for ”protecting their future.” Lin is a restricted free agent and is almost certain to re-sign with the Knicks.
”He has a bright future,” Wade said. ”Even though he probably can get out there and play, he’s not going to be as effective as he wants to be, and he might do further damage.”
This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.