Three points, 10 rebounds and one blocked shot. That's all the Knicks have been able to get out of Tyson Chandler, their All-Star center, in the first two games of the playoffs.
Chandler, who missed 15 of the Knicks' final 19 regular-season games with a bulging disc in his neck, said after practice Thursday that he expects to be feeling stronger Friday night in Boston as the Knicks take a 2-0 lead into Game 3 of their first-round series with the Celtics.
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"Every game, I get better and better," Chandler said. "I felt a little better in Game 2 and I'm sure I'll feel a little better in Game 3. It's great that my team was able to get a two-game lead without me being 100 percent, so I'm looking forward to Game 3."
Chandler said his neck isn't bothering him but that his conditioning isn't where it needs to be because he's missed so much floor time. Chandler, who looked rusty and slow in Game 1, was slightly better in Game 2, though he played only 22 minutes. Knicks coach Mike Woodson did not play him in the fourth quarter in either game.
Thanks in large part to the contributions of Kenyon Martin, the Knicks still have managed to play great second-half defense against the Celtics. Woodson said that they are going to need Chandler to make some big contributions as the playoffs continue.
"Tyson is a major piece to this puzzle," Woodson said. "And the fact is that he's off, he's lost a little weight. We're trying to get his strength back up. It'll grow. He made some major steps the other night, I thought. He'll continue to get better. I'm not worried about Tyson."
The Knicks could be even more formidable if Chandler and Martin play well at the same time. Chandler's teammates say they are beginning to see some signs of that happening.
"Tyson is getting better day by day in practice, and Game 1 and Game 2 was night and day," Carmelo Anthony said. "Game 1 he said he felt like he was a little weak, but I think that's from being [out] the last couple of weeks. It looks like he's getting back to being Tyson Chandler again."