Yesterday, Tyson Chandler made his first playoff start against the Boston Celtics. He, along with Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton, and Chris Copeland served as one of the bigger lineups to match the size and skill of the Celtics. For 20 minutes, Knicks fans waited for the Tyson Chandler from the regular season to show up. He was a non-factor on offense during the 20 minutes he played. It really doesn’t matter at this point, given that the Knicks earned a “W” against their Celtic rivals and since there’s plenty of time for Chandler to return to form as he did during the regular season.
Before a bulging disc in Chandler’s neck put him on the injured list, his patented contributions to the Knicks offense was worthy of being a registered trademark. Chandler and Raymond Felton were the 1-2 punch for the Knicks executing the pick-and-roll to a T. Back on February 3rd, when the Knicks played the Sacramento Kings, they reached a season high of 19 pick-and-roll plays, according to ESPN. Many of which could be credited to Chandler’s chemistry with Carmelo Anthony and, of course, Felton, the Knicks’ point guard. When Felton went down with his injured finger, he became the missing catalyst to this part of Chandler’s game.
Throughout the 2012-13 season, Chandler’s game has probably put him on the radar of every team in the league because of how effective he is in tapping-out the ball to his teammates. Whenever I see another player crashing the boards, and not actually grabbing the ball, but tapping it out to another player to create a second chance opportunity to score, I automatically think they’re jocking Tyson Chandler. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery, right? I’d like to see another player tie their team’s franchise record for rebounds the way Chandler earned 20 rebounds over the course of three consecutive games. When he makes a clean tap out of the ball directly to his teammate, that’s logged as a rebound too. Even Mike Breen, one of MSG’s broadcasters even cosigned Chandler’s tap out consistency when the The New York Times profiled the trend earlier this year.
We didn’t see much of the old Tyson Chandler against Boston on Saturday afternoon. The point is he played. The dude played through his neck injury for as long as he could, even in one of their biggest wins of the season, the last showdown of the regular season against the Miami Heat. He played 24 minutes and only made 2 rebounds in that game. His effort is commendable on all accounts. The individual statistics can put a notch in his belt, but there are intangibles to Chandler’s game that make him a presence on the court, like shadowing Kevin Garnett on defense. So even though yesterday he might have seem rusty, once he’s back in full form, expect the volcano of the Knicks’ big men to erupt in a major way.