All things considered, the New York Knicks offense has fared pretty well in this series. Facing one of the game's great defenses in the Indiana Pacers with a isolation-oriented attack, Carmelo Anthony and his teammates have averaged 100 points per game so far playing a style that's becoming increasingly uncommon in today's NBA.
With the return of big man Amar'e Stoudemire for Saturday's Game 3 after a lengthy absence, the Knicks have to hope he'll contribute to a more balanced, effective attack.
After developing a unique offense powered around the isolation skills of Anthony and J.R. Smith along with a host of talented shooters, New York has increasingly focused its attack around isos during the postseason. Though the team continues to win, it's clear everyone benefits from trying to spread the floor and find open shooters.
And that's what New York really needs from Stoudemire, a nudge back in that direction.
Though he's a legitimate one-on-one weapon for the Knicks in his own right, his presence as another scoring option on the floor could encourage Anthony and Smith to get the offense flowing again.
Optimism comes from the team's effort in Game 2, where Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin all scored in double-digits as the Knicks won in lopsided fashion. Stoudemire's ability to score in the mid-range and demand attention from defenders could enable those role players to get even better shots going forward.
This all assumes Stoudemire is healthy enough to make an impact, of course. The guy hasn't played since March 7 after undoing knee surgery and he's been saddled with a playing time limit of 10-15 minutes by coach Mike Woodson for his first game back.
It's reasonable to wonder if he simply won't have what it takes physically to be a contributor in a heated postseason series against a team like the Pacers.
Still, Stoudemire wasn't always 100 percent during the regular season, and he was as efficient a scorer as he's been in years. Though he only played in 29 games and averaged less than 24 minutes a night, he still put up 14.2 points per game on 57 shooting.
If he can come in and play up to that level for even 10-15 minutes a night, it's not hard to imagine him being a difference-maker in a game when the Knicks are in need of scoring. In a series that looks close, those little runs could be the difference between advancing or heading home.
In the end, we don't really know what Stoudemire will bring to the table for the remainder of the series. But it's hard to imagine Woodson playing him game after game if he's consistently struggling, and the recent evidence suggests the hobbled veteran could still provide New York with a boost on the offensive end of the floor.