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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 7:00 AM

The second round NBA Playoff series matching the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers resumes Saturday Night. A new face will be in uniform for the visitors, as Amare Stoudemire returns to the Knicks after a long absence due to injury.

Stoudemire’s play has always inspired debate amongst handicapping circles. Some believe that a dynamic scorer is always a big help at a time when getting the ball in the bucket is at a premium. Stoudemire does have a HUGE contract after all. And, that’s because he was:

A: a scorer

B: a big name that the Knicks could market to their fan base before the Carmelo Anthony trade

But, the world has changed since the Carmelo trade and other acquisitions. Now Amare’s negatives are much more widely known:

*Stoudemire is a horrible defender

*Stoudemire only rebounds if the ball bounces to him

*Stoudemire is a “scorer” because he forces up a lot of shots rather than passing

*Stoudmire develops an attitude when he’s not getting his touches

When the goal is to sell tickets, a franchise can make the case for giving a lot of minutes to a player like Amare Stoudemire. His games are exciting! BAD teams all over the league have somebody like that! When the goal is to win playoff games, he can actually be a big negative unless you can limit his touches to situations where he’s scoring points nobody else could have gotten.

Head coach Mike Woodson will have to find a way to get the best of Amare while limiting the worst of Amare. And, he’ll be doing that with a rusty player who hasn’t seen action in ages…amidst a rotation that’s already been successful without him. Is Stoudemire the missing link that turns New York into a more series Eastern Conference championship contender? Or, is he a monkey wrench that messes up what was already working.

As Woodson deals with that, handicappers must also. How much of the recent numbers can you trust if Amare’s going to come in and change the numbers? Should you bet the Over because there will be more scoring and less defense? Should you leave well enough alone because Woodson may limit his minutes to almost nothing if he doesn’t have an immediate impact?

JIM HURLEY has been studying this issue very closely. His trusted (for decades!) New York sources have been on top of the story, and they have a very good sense of how much Stoudemire will play. His computer programmers have run simulations with Stoudemire getting anywhere from 0 to 25 minutes to get a sense of both the side and total impact. His statheads have been reviewing what Stoudemire has done in past playoff games throughout his career, particularly when he’s not at 100% health. And, his Wise Guy connections in Las Vegas and offshore have been monitoring the smart money to see how other sharp minds in the industry are assessing the situation.

And, of course, we can’t forget about Indiana’s side of this equation! The Pacers looked great at home against Atlanta in the first round, winning three blowouts. They’re in a bounce-back spot after falling apart in the second half of Game Two. Will Indiana be so fired up that the Stoudemire story is irrelevant? Or, are they now suffering a crisis in confidence that will put them at the mercy of a newly dynamic Knicks offense?

You can find out if the side or total qualified for major play right here at the website with your credit card. Don’t forget that Game Three of Oklahoma City/Memphis is also going to be part of the mix, as well as a busy day of baseball. If you have any If you have any questions about NETWORK service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Saturday is a great time to talk to a representative and map out your summer plans.

Back Sunday to talk about the surprising collapse of the 2013 Los Angeles Angels as they make an appearance on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Don’t forget that BIG JUICY WINNERS in baseball AND basketball are always available from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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