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#Knicks preseason finale vs Nets tonight won't be nearly as intense as coming week of practice. Explained:
In a perfect world, Mike Woodson would treat tonight's game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, with all of his veterans in the lineup to allow him to run a regular rotation for at least one half of live action.
But with nagging injuries and conditioning issues dominating the daily routine, Woodson is instead looking at this game as just another tune up. Though players such as JR Smith and Rasheed Wallace practiced on Tuesday, neither will play in the game.
They, along with Marcus Camby, are expected, however, to be on the court Friday morning when Woodson begins one last minicamp of practices, which will include intense scrimmages. The team will bring in referees to simulate a real-game atmosphere.
"We are going to come back," Woodson said, "and start to work."
All but one regular -- Amar'e Stoudemire (out 2-3 weeks) -- are expected to be physically able to participate and prepare for the season opener, which is Nov. 1 in Brooklyn. That's when the games count, and the apathy towards some of the alarming lulls over the last three preseason games must turn to urgency. It's also when some of the injured players can no longer be pampered with rest, but pushed to perform.
"It’s an urgency in terms of having bodies on the floor to see where exactly I go in terms of rotation and things of that nature," Woodson said. "It’s not a panic mode or anything like that. Once we get everybody back, for me, from a comfort standpoint and being able to rotate guys in and out, I feel better from a coaching standpoint.”
Forget tonight, the seven days that follow it may be the most important of the season.