Knicks' Tyson Chandler (flu) starts

Updated: April 28, 2012, 9:21 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

MIAMI -- New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who is battling flu-like symptoms, started Saturday in Game 1 of New York's first-round series against the Miami Heat.

Interim coach Mike Woodson said in his pregame news conference that Chandler was a game-time decision due to the illness. Chandler, who was able to eat breakfast -- the first solid food he's kept down in two days -- warmed up prior to tipoff before making a decision.

The Knicks listed Chandler in the starting lineup about 30 minutes before tipoff.

But Chandler won't be 100 percent for Game 1 against the Heat. The Knicks have reserve Jared Jeffries ready off the bench to spell Chandler. But Jeffries will be limited to 10-15 minutes because of a knee injury.

"A good 10-15 minutes of Jared Jeffries means a great deal to our ball club," Woodson said.

Miami listed Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers as starters. New York countered with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Baron Davis and Chandler.

Even at less than full health, Chandler bolsters the Knicks' defense immeasurably. Before Chandler's status was announced, Woodson reiterated his belief that Chandler is a legitimate defensive player of the year candidate.

"He's been solid for our ball club all year long," Woodson said.

Chandler, who won an NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks last season and came to New York in an offseason sign-and-trade deal, has helped transform New York's defense from a mediocre unit to one of the top five in the NBA.

In addition to the flu bug, the 7-foot-1 center has been battling a sore knee and a left wrist injury for several weeks and sat out the team's regular-season finale on Thursday to rest. He did not practice on Friday due the flu-like symptoms.

The team kept him away from its players for fear that they would be susceptible to illness. Toney Douglas, who is also battling the flu, will be inactive for Saturday's game.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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