BOSTON -- After playing 20 minutes and then 22 in Games 1 and 2, a playing time progression seemed likely in Game 3 for the New York Knicks' Tyson Chandler, who recently had been battling conditioning issues since overcoming the flu.
The upward climb continued on Friday night, as the starting center played 30 minutes and collected his most points (six) and rebounds (eight) in a game in the series, including two alley-oop finishes.
"I felt better," he said afterward. "I was moving around a lot better. I was able to play for longer stretches. My timing with my teammates, my communication out there was a lot better."
21 SHUMP STREET: Iman Shumpert made a name for himself toward the end of the regular season with his hot starts, making stops and draining 3-pointers. That was the case on Friday night, when he hit a 3 and shut down the Boston Celtics' best offensive player, Paul Pierce, holding him to 1-for-6 shooting. Shumpert also forced Pierce into two turnovers. On one possession in the first quarter, Shumpert slid in front of him to disrupt an incoming pass, and later in the period, the Knicks guard utilized his quick hands to steal the ball.
"I think Iman is starting to get more comfortable in himself," Chandler said. "He obviously had a tough injury last year, but that's an injury that takes some time. He's worked really hard to put himself in a position that he is in now. You can see his timing coming back. Game by game, he's gotten more confident, and the same thing throughout this series."
Shumpert said the Knicks' rhythm in transition -- from making stops to pushing the ball -- is really on point. That's helped them control the tempo against the Celtics, forcing them on their heels defensively.
"Definitely," Shump said. "I think we transition it from defense to offense, and offense to defense really well. Everybody is playing for each other, and it's playoff basketball. A lot of the maybe we miss a shot and we complain to the ref during the regular season -- that's pretty much out now. It's all about getting stops and making sure we get more possessions and more shot attempts than the other team."
HOW SWEEP IT IS: Carmelo Anthony's Denver and New York teams have never swept an opponent. He's on the verge of doing that on Sunday, and that's music to his ears.
"To be honest with you, to accomplish that would be spectacular," he said. "It would be a dream come true."
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