The New York Knicks appeared to be in trouble without any healthy big men heading into their first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, but thanks to the play of Kenyon Martin they have been able to withstand the injuries.
Martin was a solid contributor during the regular season after the Knicks signed him in late February to replace injured fellow veteran Rasheed Wallace. In 18 games, including 11 starts, Martin averaged 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in about 23.9 minutes per game, giving the Knicks some much needed production from their front court.
Now in the playoffs with Wallace retired and Tyson Chandler not quite himself, Martin continues to be productive. In the Knicks two victories over the Celtics so far, Martin is averaging 6.5 points, ten rebounds and, most importantly, three blocks per game.
Martin’s tough play in the middle has been a key to the Knicks’ holding the Celtics to less than 75 points in each of the first two games of the series. If not for Martin, the Knicks would be left to play Chris Copeland in a reserve role at center, which would put the thin Knicks front court in a major bind.
The Knicks will still need Chandler to regain his form from the regular season, but if he takes a bit longer than expected the Knicks at least know they can count on Martin to give them quality minutes, even if only for playing 20-25 minutes a game. Martin’s no-nonsense approach to the game gives New York a bit of an edge and could help the Knicks wrap up this series quicker than many expected.