Shumpert says he'll play against Heat

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- While the Knicks have Iman Shumpert listed as questionable for Sunday's highly anticipated showdown with the Heat, the combo guard said he'll play.

Mike Woodson said the same thing after Saturday's practice.

"He'll be ready to go," said Woodson, who mentioned that Shumpert was getting treatment.

Shumpert sprained his right ankle in the third quarter Friday night against the Wizards and did not return.

The Knicks need Shumpert's perimeter defense that can alternate between the Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Woodson hasn't decided on starting-five defensive assignments yet -- it will be either star to start the game -- but Shumpert knows he has one goal in mind: to disrupt both stars' dribbling patterns.

"Both of them handle the ball a lot," he said. "They get out in transition, so you don't really know who you're going to pick up. It's the usual challenge. You've just got to try and keep people uncomfortable, try to follow the game plan and anything we've got to do to win, that's what we're going to do."

As for Amare Stoudemire, who's dealing with a bulging disk, Woodson said the power forward will not play against the Heat. And beyond that, the coach doesn't know when he'll return. But once Stoudemire does, Woodson will "absolutely" start him at power forward and move Carmelo Anthony back to the three.

"If he tells me he's ready to go, we're going to move him back at the four spot," Woodson said. "I've got to make sure that combination is successful and I think I can do that."

Stoudemire, who didn't address the media, participated light in practice, mostly shooting around and running through 5-on-0 plays with the team. But then he scrimmaged 4-on-4 with Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Mike Bibby, Josh Harrellson, former Knick and assistant GM Allan Houston, director of team operations Chris Bernard and a friend of the team.

That's when Stoudemire obviously took more physical contact, but he didn't look to exert himself at full speed or strength. Woodson said they wanted to use the scrimmage to see how he looked in more of a game situation. Following that, he said the training staff would evaluate him and continue that process Sunday through practice on Monday. From there, the Knicks would have a better sense of when Stoudemire could play.

Looking ahead to Sunday, Woodson has a difficult task at hand. While Anthony's been flourishing at the four, offensively and defensively, he hasn't faced a player quite like Chris Bosh. Woodson is not sure yet what he'll do without Stoudemire in the lineup.

"I haven't figured out who I'm going to play on who tomorrow," he said. "I mean, we've got a few ways to go, but they're a tough matchup. When you got Wade, Bosh and LeBron out there, I mean, it's tough. But we'll figure it out, though."

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