The New York Knicks are in a prime position to enter the playoffs with a lot of momentum at their backs, but they aren’t going to get very far unless All-Star center Tyson Chandler is able to work past his recent injury issues and get back to his usually dominant self.
Not too long ago, Chandler missed 10 consecutive games with a bulging disc in his neck as well as a knee contusion.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 10.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 64 percent from the field on the season, but he has not been his usual self in his first three games back. In fact, it’s quite obvious that Chandler is still in pain or at least feeling nagging effects of his neck injury.
Over that brief stretch, the 7’1″, 240 pound center has posted just three points and 5.3 rebounds per game while making just 36 percent of his shots. Yes, it could be that Chandler just needs to get his legs back after missing nearly three weeks, but the fact that he has not been his usual explosive self is a definite sign of concern this late in the season and with the playoffs just days away.
The facts are simple: if the Knicks are going to make any type of statement in the postseason, Chandler must be fully healthy and well past his injury.
Look at it this way. As of today, New York is 25th in the league in rebounding. Besides Chandler, there really isn’t anyone on the team who can step up and put up big numbers in that department.
Nothing against backup big man Kenyon Martin, but he is 35 years old and now dealing with a knee injury. If Chandler is still not 100 percent by the playoffs and Martin’s knee proves to be a bigger problem than it appears, the Knicks could be in a lot of trouble.
Now, it certainly helps that over the remainder of the regular season, New York has a total of five days off left, including today. This means that any players with nagging injuries can receive treatments and get all the rest they need so as not to make whatever is bothering them worse.
In Chandler’s case, all that can be hoped for is that his neck injury does not prove to be a greater problem than initially anticipated. This man is way too important to the team to not be at full strength when the postseason begins, and while the Knicks have performed well in spite of his injury, the last thing the team can afford to do is make every playoff game an episode of the Carmelo Anthony & J.R. Smith show.
Chandler needs to get healthy, and the sooner that happens the better.