The New York Knicks (40-26) can clinch a playoff spot with a road win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, but their best defensive player will not be uniform for the game. The Knicks announced that Tyson Chandler will be inactive for the contest on Friday. The defensive anchor of the team is dealing with a bulging disk in his cervical spine, and on Tuesday New York suggested that Chandler could miss a full week of action.
Tyson Chandler will not dress tonight at Toronto.— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) March 22, 2013
The big man has been vital to the Knicks' success this season. Although he is best known for his defensive prowess, Chandler also brings tough rebounding, terrific tap-out technique on the offensive glass and hyper-efficient scoring to the table. This year New York is 6.1 points per possession better than opposing teams with Tyson on the floor, compared to just 0.1 points per possession better when he's not in the game, per NBA.com/stats.
Knicks fans aren't exactly worried about the team holding Chandler out tonight, as the interesting choice of wording on the announcement from Knicks PR instead spawned some predictable jokes on Twitter. Like this one. And this one. And this one. You get the idea. Fans of a franchise that has not won a playoff series in 13 years have earned the right to laugh a little bit. Especially as the team is on the brink of a playoff berth and should be prioritizing the health of its top players for the post-season run.
Carmelo Anthony is still working his way back to top form after having his right knee drained last week. Anthony suited up against the Magic on Wednesday and scored 21 points on 7-14 shooting in 33 minutes, but he missed the previous three games and had a rough patch prior to that rest. Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal noted on Friday that Melo has seen a huge drop in his dunk numbers this year:
His 21 dunk attempts make up 1.8% of his total shots-a career-low, and a far cry from the 4.2% they accounted for just three seasons ago. In the mid-2000s, Anthony was among the NBA's most frequent dunkers, dunking on more than 10% of his shots.
All of which raises the question: Why isn't Anthony dunking anymore?
Anthony says dunking isn't that important, and that he has become more conservative about going for highlight plays since joining the league at age 19.
"You have to pick your spots unless you're one of those super athletic guys who dunks every time you get a chance," said the 28-year-old Knicks star. "So for me, dunking's not real big on my radar. If it's there, I'll do it. If it's not, I'll lay it up."
Despite those comments, most people in New York are concerned about the health of Anthony's knees.
The Knicks currently hold the No. 3 seed in the East -- one game behind the Indiana Pacers and one game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets -- but if Anthony and Chandler aren't at something close to 100 percent they will be in trouble when the playoffs start. Seth Rosenthal of Knicks blog Posting and Toasting is doing his best to keep the mood light and sprinkle in some humor, because it's scary to focus the lingering injury issues that surround the team at the moment.