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Sunday, May 12, 2013
Hibbert > Chandler through three games

By Ian Begley

Hibbert/Chandler
Roy Hibbert, whose stats have ballooned in the postseason, dominated Tyson Chandler in Game 3.
Mike Woodson hardly ever criticizes his players in public.

But the New York Knicks coach broke protocol following Game 1 of the Indiana Pacers series.

After he watched Indiana's Roy Hibbert outplay Tyson Chandler in the series opener, Woodson said, "I've got to get Tyson [Chandler] playing better than Hibbert."

So far, Woodson's fallen far short of that goal.

Hibbert's been one of the best players in this young series. And some of his success has come at Chandler's expense.

In the Pacers' Game 3 win, Hibbert poured in 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds (eight offensive); the Pacers outscored the Knicks by 20 with their big man on the floor.

"He kind of had his way," Woodson said after Game 3, "and that's got to change."

The Knicks say that they failed to execute their defensive schemes against Hibbert in Game 3. They intended to trap Hibbert and the other Pacers bigs, just as they had in Game 2.

Instead, they left members of their front line vulnerable in one-on-one matchups and left the rim exposed thanks to poor rotations.

Tyson Chandler
A frustrated Tyson Chandler hasn't been his normal self in the playoffs.
The Knicks' lax approach helped Indiana dominate the boards (53-40) and beat New York on second-chance points (20-10).

"We’re not trapping (the Pacers' bigs), then we’re in a tough spot," Chandler said.

That's a big problem that the Knicks need to handle heading into Game 4.

But they also need a better effort from Chandler if he gets matched up against Hibbert.

Hibbert scored on at least three post moves in which Chandler was matched up with him, one-on-one, in Game 3.

It was hard not to notice Hibbert scoring directly over Chandler, the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Afterward, teammates and coaches said it was wrong to single out Chandler for Hibbert's strong night. Instead, they said a lack of team-wide execution allowed the ex-Georgetown Hoya to dominate.

And there is evidence to support that.

Hibbert had 14 points, five blocks and eight rebounds in the Pacers' Game 1 win. He was easily the best big on the floor. So the Knicks made adjustments in Game 2; they used a trapping style against the 7-footer and limited him to just six points on seven shots in 36 minutes.

"Their offense is being run through him, and that can be a positive for us if we play it correctly," Chandler said. "But (in Game 3) we didn’t play it correctly. Because of that we were exposed."

Of course, what Chandler says makes sense; it takes five men working in cohesion to get defensive stops. So it's inaccurate and unfair to point fingers solely at Chandler for Hibbert's success.

But Hibbert's stats, when juxtaposed against Chandler's, make you wonder about the health of the Knicks' big man. Don't forget, Chandler came into the postseason battling injuries and conditioning issues.

He missed 16 of New York's final 20 regular season games due to a bulging disk in his neck. His conditioning -- and poor production -- was an issue for much of the Boston series. His numbers against Indiana suggest he is playing below expectations in this series as well.

He's averaging seven points and four rebounds in 29 minutes compared to 10 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the regular season.

One more reason to be concerned if you're a Knicks fan?

Prior to this series, Chandler had a pretty good track record against Hibbert.

In Chandler's six regular season games against Hibbert, the Pacers' big man averaged 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds on 45 percent shooting. In the first three games of this series, Hibbert has averaged 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds on 53 percent shooting.

Chandler, though, insists he's healthy and that Hibbert's success has more to do with the Knicks' schematic shortcomings than his own.

"It can’t be one or two guys out there. It has to be an entire team, and that’s where we’re falling short," Chandler said.

And there's plenty of truth to that.

But it would certainly help the Knicks if their big man played a little bigger against Hibbert.

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