Just one day before the playoffs begin, the New York Knicks received some potentially bad news today when center Tyson Chandler was forced to miss Friday’s practice with a severe case of the flu.
Al Iannazzone of New York Newsday reports that the Knicks may be without starting center Chandler for Game 1 of first round against the Miami Heat. Iannazzone says via his Twitter account that Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said that there’s a strong possibility Chandler won’t play Game 1.
If Chandler is forced to sit out Game 1, it could be a death blow to the Knicks. One of the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year, Chandler averaged 11.3 points (67.9 field goal percentage) and 9.9 rebounds per game, blocking 1.9 shots per game during the regular season.
The Knicks need Chandler on the floor for his defensive presence as they aren’t nearly the same team without him.
Prior to Thursday night’s win against the Charlotte Bobcats, New York was without Chandler for three games on the season. They didn’t respond well by allowing 119, 118 and 112 points, going only 1-2 in those games.
If Chandler is forced to sit, Amar’e Stoudemire will likely play a lot at the 5 while Carmelo Anthony will shift back to the 4 where he had a ton of success when Stoudemire was out of the lineup. While that may be good at the offensive end of the floor, it likely won’t work well at the defensive end. The Knicks are going to have to give maximum effort defensively to win this series and without Chandler in the lineup, it’s going to be difficult to come away from Game 1 with a series lead.
Iannazzone also tweeted that Woodson forced the team to keep away from Chandler and that he’s wearing a surgical mask because he’s contagious.
Of all things that could happen to the Knicks before the playoffs begin, losing Chandler for a game is probably the least affordable thing possible.