New York Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni is expected to miss Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against Boston Celtics on Saturday due to a sprained right ankle, according to Nate Taylor of the New York Times. Prigioni injured his ankle in the team's final regular season game against the Hawks, and he was on crutches when he watched his teammates practice on Thursday. Head coach Mike Woodson told reporters that Raymond Felton will need to step up (via the New York Times):
"If Raymond is the solo point guard starting out, he has to defend that spot," Woodson said. "He has to apply pressure just like Pablo does. We have to extend our defense. Nothing changes. We just have to duplicate what Pablo does until he gets back."
Prigioni's availability for Game 2 was not addressed. Seth Rosenthal of Knicks blog Posting and Toasting noted that without Prigioni the other backcourt players for the Knicks will be pressed to cover the gap in a fragmented fashion:
Missing Pablo for any amount of time would lose the Knicks some pick-and-roll creation, perimeter defense/turnover-forcing, and shooting. It's not as if they don't have recourse, though. Jason Kidd hopefully won't have to play big minutes, but he can step into Prigion's [sic] starting role to recreate this season's original point guard tandem with Raymond Felton. Meanwhile, Iman Shumpert has done a bit more ball-handling (out of necessity) in recent games and hasn't looked half bad (more like...I dunno, 40 percent bad) in that role. Quentin Richardson's now around to sop up any leftover two-guard minutes and you know J.R. Smith's always ready to play 48.
So, if Pablo's limited or absent, the Knicks should be okay. They'll just miss his offensive creativity, defensive guile, and his sneaks.
The 36-year-old guard posted modest averages of 3.5 points and 3.0 assists in 16.2 minutes per game over 78 contests this season, but he started to play particularly well down the stretch for New York. In the final 10 games of the season, Prigioni played 22.1 minutes per game and shot 56.3 percent from the field to bolster his contributions on defense. In the most recent matchup against the Celtics, he logged a team-high 33 minutes in a 108-89 win at Madison Square Garden.