This has been an intense, physical first-round series between the Knicks and Celtics, so injuries are par for the course. But for Amare Stoudemire, who played only 18 minutes Tuesday night and missed the entire second half with back spasms, the worst of it came even before the opening tip.
"I believe it happened in warmups," Stoudemire said of his injury. "I tapped the glass with my left hand and dunked with my right. That's when I felt it."
Stoudemire remained on the floor and managed a heavy workload in the first half, but he was largely ineffective. He had five rebounds and an assist, but he shot just 2-of-9 and finished with a mere four points.
He was sorely lacking the athleticism that enabled him to dominate Game 1 on Sunday night.
"I could hardly move," Stoudemire said. "I was trying to play through it. I went to the training staff and had it worked on before the game. Right before the national anthem, I went to get a little more work done. I tried to push through it and play on it, but once I felt that sharp pain, I just couldn't take it."
The hope is that Stoudemire, like point guard Chauncey Billups (strained knee) will return on Friday night for Game 3 down in New York. But Stoudemire remains hesitant to give a definite answer.
"I've never had back spasms before," he said. "But this is a normal back spasm. It just takes time for it to relax, so I think I should be ready to go by Friday.
"But I'm not sure. But we'll see how it goes tomorrow and the next day. Hopefully I'll be ready to go Friday."