New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton will officially return to the starting lineup on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Felton had been sidelined since Dec. 25 with a fractured right pinkie.
Joining Felton in the starting lineup will be Jason Kidd, who was questionable for the game with a back injury. Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports that there will be no minutes restriction on either Felton or Kidd, and that both players also plan to play on Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.
With both Felton and Kidd healthy, along with the recent return of Iman Shumpert from ACL surgery, Knicks coach Mike Woodson can go with his preferred "small-ball" starting lineup that was so successful at the start of the season when Ronnie Brewer was playing well at the 3. Having Carmelo Anthony at the 4 presents some serious problems for opposing defenses, and Melo has shown an ability to be competent on the defensive end against power forwards. Having Tyson Chandler back to protect the rim certainly helps matters as well.
Felton's return in general should help boost a Knicks team that has been middle-of-the-road without him. Since going down on Christmas Day, New York has gone just 6-6 and struggled at times offensively. Felton's ability to penetrate and create for others was a big part of that early season success, and shooters like Anthony, Steve Novak and J.R. Smith should benefit from his return. Novak especially should be happy, as he's shooting 51 percent from three with Felton on the floor, as opposed to 37 percent without him.