The New York Knicks managed to win Game 1 of their playoff series against the Boston Celtics without a big performance from Tyson Chandler, but the entire team needs a reality check if they think that can happen again in Game 2.
In the Knicks’ 85-78 victory, Chandler played just 20 minutes, scoring no points on zero field goal attempts and having just five rebounds and a steal. He did not play in the fourth quarter.
Granted, as Al Iannazzone of Newsday reported, Chandler is still getting his conditioning back into top form, so his performance in Game 1 could just be a sign of him missing most of the final few weeks of the season due to a neck injury. If I was in his position, I’d sure be tired after 20 minutes of running up and down the court as well.
But the fact of the matter is that while big man Amar’e Stoudemire is out recovering from knee surgery, New York has very little interior presence outside of Chandler and aging veteran Kenyon Martin. Long story short, the team needs Chandler to be the defensive monster he has been ever since joining New York via free agency last season.
This is because the Celtics’ center is one of the greatest defensive players in basketball history in future Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett. To Chandler’s credit, as well as Martin’s, Garnett was held to eight points on four of 12 shooting, plus nine rebounds. Percentages aside, that’s not bad for someone 36 years old.
But the fact of the matter is that as long as Chandler’s conditioning is not at its best, it’s going to be all the more difficult for New York to win Game 2 and gain a stronger position in the series. Heck, if his legs aren’t under him, it’s going to be harder for the Knicks to get to the next round.
Fortunately, Chandler is a great athlete to begin with and is probably working endlessly to get back in game shape after a long absence. If his efforts pay off, he should be able to have a great Game 2 and fine series overall, and that can only help New York down the stretch.