Unlike Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, Felton will not be in any kind of minutes restriction.
If I need to play him 40 minutes, I might play him 40," coach Mike Woodson said.
Felton will play with his pinky and ring finger taped together. He may take the floor with some extra padding.
The Knicks, who began the season 20-8 with Felton, went 6-6 without their starting point guard. They struggled at times on both ends of the court. While Carmelo Anthony maybe the MVP of this team, it's quite evident that the Knicks are just not the same team without Felton. Just like the rest of the team, Felton can't wait to step on the court.
"I feel like a new man, like I'm about to play the first game of the season," he said.
The Knicks are slowly to comeback at full strength. For the first time this season, Felton, Stoudemire, Shumpert, J. R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler will play together.
“We’re where we want to be, top of our division, top of the Eastern Conference — even with injuries, and we’re getting guys coming back,” Anthony said. “Raymond’s coming back. Shumpert’s starting to get his groove back. Amar’e’s getting his groove back. We’re ready to make a run.”
With Felton out, the Knicks simply haven't had a point guard to run the team's offense in the kind of penetrate-and-kick style that he gave them. His ability to penetrate and create open shots for guys like Anthony, Steve Novak and Smith make the Knicks a much better team. Novak especially should be happy, as he's shooting 51 percent from three with Felton on the floor, as opposed to 37 percent without him.
Felton also created an unstoppable alley-oop partner in Chandler. The two of them have connected on more alley-oop slams than anyother combination in the league. Chandler's shooting percentage dropped from 69 percent to 63 in Felton's absence. Felton's ability to run the pick and roll so effectively is another thing that the team has been sorely lacking.
Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni have played well at times without Felton. However, they just don't have the explosive penetration at their old age than the 28 year old Felton. Kidd can now slide back into the shooting guard spot and can now play less minutes now. In the eight of the 12 games that Felton missed, Kidd was forced to play 30+ minutes. In those 12 games, it was quite noticeable that Kidd was not the same player.
"I'll get my rest once we get fully healthy. That's how I look at it," Kidd said. "Getting Ray back, that definitely helps."
Kidd was not expected to play tonight because of some back pain, but responded well to treatment and declared himself healthy enough to play the first game of a back-to-back.
In addition to Kidd and Felton in the backcourt, Woodson will start Iman Shumpert at small forward, Anthony at power forward and newly named All Star Chandler at center against Philadelphia.