Chauncey Billups' left knee was improving but still sore yesterday, and the Knicks point guard doesn't know if he will be able to suit up tonight.

"It's sore. [Wednesday's cortisone shot] made it probably a little sorer, more sore [than yesterday]. But that was to be expected," Billups said. "Hopefully, in the best-case scenario, it'll calm down [today]."

Billups

has a strained tendon in the knee, and the 34-year-old veteran hasn't played since the final minute of Game 1.

Mike D'Antoni said he is "less optimistic" about

Billups playing tonight than he is Amar'e Stoudemire, who is dealing with back woes.

Billups said the issue surrounds both pain tolerance and the knee restricting the way he moves and jumps. He said the concern isn't making the knee worse.

"I don't think I'll be in a position where I can further hurt myself," he said. "I just want to be able to run around out there a little bit. I know at this point there's no way I'm going to come back and be 100 percent. But I don't have to be 100 to come back. I just want to be able to help the team and not hurt the team, and if I can get to that point, then I'll be out there."

If Billups doesn't return in this series, there's at least some question about whether he may have played his final game as a Knick. He has a $14 million option for next year. Team president Donnie Walsh said yesterday the decision on the option won't be addressed until after the season ends.