With the Indiana Pacers owning the size advantage in this second-round series, the New York Knicks need to play bigger defensively and on the boards. That especially goes for Tyson Chandler.
But in the Knicks' Game 1 loss on Sunday, Chandler was a no-show.
Looking ahead, no matter how many points Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith score, it might not matter if Chandler, the Knicks' defensive anchor, scores only four points, pulls down only three rebounds and plays only 28 minutes because of foul trouble. That will open more doors for Roy Hibbert, David West and Tyler Hansbrough, which was the case in Game 1.
Those three combined for 42 points, and the Pacers outrebounded the Knicks 44 to 30.
But after that, Hibbert -- one of the best defensive centers in the NBA -- simply outworked Chandler. That's how Knicks coach Mike Woodson sized up many of the individual matchups on Sunday.
"I thought they played harder than our team. That was the difference," Woodson said. "[Chandler] was in foul trouble, but individual matchups is going to be the difference in this series. And I thought Hibbert played better tonight, and I've got to get Tyson playing better than Hibbert. And we can't let West have a big night like he did tonight."
After the game, Hibbert talked about what he did to contain Chandler, whom he thought looked "normal" health-wise. Chandler has been recovering from the flu and has a small bulging disk in his neck.
"He's strong and he was the defensive player of the year last year," Hibbert said. "I just tried to make sure I boxed him out, so he doesn't get any tap-outs or rebounds. Seriously, it's a grind down there. He's probably one of the best at tap-outs and going for offensive boards."
Chandler summed up his matchup with Hibbert by saying, "He attacks the glass. They run a lot of sets for him to duck in and to get to his hook shot. I need to do a better job of keeping him out of his sweet spot."
Chandler will need some help on the interior, which is why during Game 1 Woodson played him side-by-side with Kenyon Martin. After the game, Martin said their tandem needs to continue, but the issue in Game 1 was generating points together. While Chandler helped his teammates get open shots with his strong screening, his own looks at the rim were limited.
"From a defensive standpoint, we weren't bad, but we didn't get much out of the offense," Woodson said. "And we've got to build some sets in come tomorrow that's going to help those two when they're out on the floor playing together."
Game 1 also told another story: The Knicks need Amar'e Stoudemire back. His low-post scoring and decent rebounding can help counter the Pacers' extra doses down low with Hibbert, West and Hansbrough.
"He'll give us another scorer, he'll give us some more size," Martin said. "Just having him out there will be a big help."
In the meantime, Chandler needs to post consistent double-doubles, with a couple of blocked shots, to put more pressure on the Pacers' bigs. To be more blunt, in Game 2, Chandler needs to be much, much better.
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