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BOSTON (AP) — Toney Douglas played well when he replaced an injured Chauncey Billups during the regular season.
There’s much more at stake now.
In only his third season, Douglas said he’s prepared if, as expected, Billups, the 13-year veteran point guard, misses tonight’s Game 2 of the New York Knicks’ first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics with a sore left knee.
Billups is “very questionable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday.
If he is out, it will be up to Douglas to direct an offense led by Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
“I’m ready,” Douglas said Monday. “The hardest part is getting my body ready for that situation.”
Billups was hurt late in Boston’s 87-85 victory Sunday night when his leg “buckled on me.” He limped off the court with 51 seconds left and didn’t return.
“It’s really sore” he said after watching practice in street clothes. “At this point in the season, this is the worst thing that could possibly happen, getting hurt in the first game of a tough series. I know my team needs me and it’s just frustrating.”
D’Antoni said it’s much more likely that Billups will play at home Friday in Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers sees a possible trap for his team if Billups is sidelined.
“If you take someone lightly in the playoffs, then shame on you,” he said. “Douglas has had a terrific year. (The Knicks) went on a winning streak when Douglas was playing and Chauncey was out. But I don’t think that’ll affect the way we approach the game.”
Douglas averaged 16.8 points and 6.8 assists in the six games Billups missed with a left thigh bruise from March 2-10. The Knicks split the first two then won three straight before losing again.