From the very beginning of the New York Knicks second round series against the Indiana Pacers, it was clear that slowing down Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert would be key to any chance the Knicks had to survive and advance.
However on paper, everything looked good for the Knicks having 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler matched up on Hibbert for the duration of the series.
Unfortunately the Hibbert-Chandler matchup has turned into a mismatch. One that the Pacers have repeatedly exploited.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said earlier in the series that he needed Chandler to outplay Hibbert for the Knicks to be successful.
Similar to Game 1, that didn’t happen in Game 3.
Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Chandler finished with nine points, five rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes. Even more disturbing was the fact that the Knicks were outscored by 14 with Chandler on the floor.
The Knicks are attempting to trap and double Hibbert, but the help is coming much too late. New York is often blessed by the fact that Chandler doesn’t need much help, which allows their defense to be more aggressive. That’s not the case here as he is getting abused.
With all of the Knicks struggles this series, except for their huge fourth quarter run in Game 2, a major reason they are down in the series is the fact that they are losing the battle of the big men in a big way.
Chandler has averaged only seven points and four rebounds this series, while only averaging 3.7 shoot attempts per game. Hibbert on the other hand has been dominant. The Georgetown product is averaging 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds, to go along with three blocks per game.
To get back and potentially win this series, Chandler has to be much better, especially from a rebounding and defensive perspective.
He has to come to play and limit Hibbert’s effectiveness.
How long this series goes could rest on his shoulders.
Tuesday night in Indianapolis, Chandler has to come to play and make a statement doing so.
If he does, I like the Knicks chances.
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