Coach's report: Novak out; Cope time?

BOSTON -- Steve Novak (back spasms) won't play in Game 6, and Mike Woodson said he doesn't know when the sharpshooter will return.

Novak wasn't present at the team's shootaround Friday. He was receiving treatment at the team hotel.

"I just think [his back] went out, locked up on him [in Game 5]," Woodson said. "He couldn't come back after the halftime, so we've got to move on."

Next in line would be Chris Copeland, who hasn't played in the past two games. But Woodson made no promises that the 29-year-old rookie would get minutes. That's because he might shorten his rotation on Friday night to seven or eight players.

"That can possibly happen," Woodson said referring to Copeland playing in Game 6. "It's based on matchups. ... They've made some changes in terms of their personnel in that second quarter. So we've just got to gauge it on that and just see."

Woodson said when Copeland played early in the series (he started in Game 1), he wasn't comfortable in the playoff environment. But on Friday night, Copeland could generate instant offense from 3-point range and in the post, where only Carmelo Anthony has been scoring. Copeland's defensive presence, however, will dictate his minutes.

"The regular season is totally different from the postseason," Woodson said. "We gave him a shot briefly early in this series and he was nervous. ... That was expected. I just didn't come back and put the pressure back on him. I might have to tonight."

BACKCOURT STEALS KEY TO GAME 6: Through the first three games of the series, the Knicks had 44 steals; the Celtics had only 21. Because half-court scoring hasn't come easy for both teams, Woodson knows his team will have to force turnovers and score in transition to separate the scoring margin.

"They're averaging 82 [points], we're averaging 87 points. So if you can generate points by steals and deflections, that's a plus, because in the half-court set it's been a grind both ways," the coach said. "We know what's coming and they know what's coming. It's who does it the best and the hardest I think is going to win this thing."

RAVING ABOUT SHUMP: For one of the first times all season, Woodson didn't call Iman Shumpert "Rook" on Friday. Perhaps it's because of how the coach has grown to respect the 22-year-old.

Woodson told ESPNNewYork.com that Shumpert's maturity has impressed him. In each of his first two seasons, Shumpert has had to adapt to a different role -- from a combo guard to small forward -- and he's adjusted well, even while returning from a left ACL repair this season. He is defending (nine steals), hitting 3s (43.8 percent) and has picked up his rebounding (seven per game) this series.

"Physically and mentally he's tough," Woodson said. "I think we've kind of grown to expect that. ... Sometimes I look at him and think that he's been in this league 10 years. I go at him and I challenge him that way, and sometimes it's not fair because he's only been in the league basically a season and a half. ... He's made major strides, there's no doubt about that."

STAT UPDATE: If the Knicks start the semifinals on Sunday, Woodson doesn't think Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee injury) will be able to go. His return could come later in the series.

"I don't think he's at that stage yet of playing in a game," the coach said.

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