Much has been made over the course of the 2013 NBA Playoffs about Carmelo Anthony’s shooting struggles.
Even more has been made about J.R. Smith’s struggles and immature behavior off of the floor.
But as equally disturbing as how Anthony and Smith have struggled, the struggles of New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler is having an impact on the Knicks, who have lost three of their last four playoff games.
If that is to change and the Knicks are to even up their second round series against the Indiana Pacers, Chandler must step up and be dominant in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Chandler was severely outplayed by Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert in Game 1. Hibbert finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and four assists, while Chandler only had four points, three rebounds and two blocks.
That prompted Knicks head coach Mike Woodson to say, “I’ve got to get Tyson [Chandler] playing better than Hibbert.”
When you think about it, Chandler’s performance is a real key to the series.
Throughout the postseason, Chandler is averaging only five points per game, failing to score in double figures in any of the Knicks seven playoff games. He has also only averaged 7.8 rebounds and has average only 3.7 shot attempts per game.
That’s down from the 10.4 points and 10.7 rebounds he averaged during the regular season. He shot 63.8 percent from the floor while averaging over six shot attempts per game.
It’s as simple as getting Chandler more touches.
However it’s hard to keep him involved when the Knicks continue to go away from the pick-and-roll, something that Chandler and Raymond Felton have great success with. But in the second half of Game 1, the Knicks offense was dominated by Anthony and Smith in isolation plays.
That plays right into the Pacers hands.
Indiana is a very good defensive team and if the ball isn’t moving, Hibbert doesn’t have to move much. That means he is always in position to contest shots and clean up the glass.
If Hibbert continues to dominate Chandler, this will be a quick series.
Even though it is early, Game 2 is almost a must-win situation for the Knicks.
That won’t happen unless Chandler steps up at both ends of the floor.
Defensively he has to be as physical with Hibbert as the Pacers are with the Knicks, but he can’t get into early foul trouble. He simply can’t allow Hibbert to put up a line like he did in Game 1.
Offensively, the Knicks have to get away from the constant isolation and move the basketball.
Chandler has to be involved in the gameplan and has to put up double-double type numbers for the remainder of this series.
If the Knicks have plans to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, Chandler has to play a major role in things.
He can start with a big game Tuesday night.
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