NEW YORK — It was clear, at least to Knicks coach Mike Woodson, that his team suffered without Pablo Prigioni on the court in Game 1, even as the Knicks were able to beat the Celtics.
So Woodson and his players were pleased to get Prigioni back for Game 2 Tuesday night, the ankle sprain he suffered a week ago having healed enough for him to return to the court.
As Woodson had said Sunday, “Pablo was definitely missed on both ends of the floor. We went back and charted our offense.
“We had some slow times where we were very stagnant.”
Prigioni played in 78 games this season, starting 18, but 16 of those came in the Knicks’ final 17 games of the season.
The guard averaged 3.5 points per game and 3.0 assists during the season, but emerged as an important piece late in the year when the team won 13 consecutive games.
In addition to Prigioni, the Knicks started Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler in Game 2.
“It gives us a guy that can help run our team, give us a defensive presence out front, guarding the ball,” Woodson said before Tuesday night’s game.
Woodson said Prigioni was under no restrictions for the game, after practicing for the past couple of days.
His return altered the Knicks’ matchups, pushing Felton to Paul Pierce duty. Felton guarded Pierce in the teams’ last two regular-season matchups.
“[Pierce] presents challenges for everybody,” Woodson said. “We’ll be fine. Raymond’s OK. He’s guarded bigger guys like Paul. Not in the playoffs, but during the regular season, all season.”
As for how Prigioni will do?
“Only time will tell,” Woodson said.
Amar’e Stoudemire, who is not expected back for this series, said he is “progressing well” after knee surgery. Stoudemire had a debridement on his right knee, after having the same surgery on his left knee. It took him about eight weeks to return from the left knee surgery.
“Everything is on schedule, for the most part,” Stoudemire said. “I continue to get stronger. I’ll get back on the court, start moving around at full speed sooner or later. Not sure exactly when.”
From there, Stoudemire said he’ll check the reaction of the knee, which will allow he and the Knicks to determine the next steps. He said that “if everything goes great”, the second round of the playoffs might be an option.
Stoudemire, who played 29 games this season (no starts) and averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds, still has not run at full speed, but he is hoping to do so by the end of the week. For now, he’s working on footwork, among other things.
“The blessing is that we have such a great team,” Stoudemire said. “They’re doing extremely well in these playoffs so far, with a 1-0 record.
“If we continue to win, then that gives me more time to really heal up 100 percent. That’s kind of the blessing that we have right now.”
Bernie Williams, the former Yankee, played the guitar for the national anthem . . . Woodson said Chandler’s issues in Game 1 were that “his body movement and his pop just wasn’t there.” Chandler is returning from a bulging disk in his neck . . . Before the game, Woodson listed four crucial matchups for the Knicks – Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green, and Jason Terry, Terry because “he’s battle-tested and has been in enough playoff games,” Woodson said. “He is capable of putting numbers on the board and he’s capable of making big shots when they count. You’ve really got to keep an eye on him and try to contain him.” . . . Woodson was slightly critical of J.R. Smith’s Game 1. Smith won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award Monday. “I thought he was solid,” Woodson said. “I thought there were some shots that were kind of questionable because of the lack of ball movement on his part. Those are things that he’ll hopefully learn from.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.