GREENBURGH, N.Y. — With Kevin Garnett expected to get more touches in Game 2 on Tuesday night, Tyson Chandler knows it’s more important than ever that he round back into form from his neck injury.
Chandler was essentially a non-factor in Game 1, going scoreless and block-less with five rebounds in 20 minutes of the Knicks 85-78 victory.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Chandler said Monday at practice. “I expect [Garnett] to get more shots. We just have to do a good job defending him down in the paint as well as making sure he doesn’t get any open jump shots.”
Entering Game 1, Chandler had missed 16 of the previous 20 games with a bulging disk in his neck. He attributed his Game 1 performance to rust and said he’s feeling much better now.
“Obviously, I’m going to be a little stiff, a iittle sore here and there but I feel great honestly,” Chandler said. “It’s just when you’re out for so long you’re not playing against some Park and Rec dudes, you’re playing against the best of the best and I’m trying to condition myself playing against the best of the best…It’s just getting my timing back, getting my legs under me and getting back into the flow of the game.”
For the Knicks’ sake, he needs to be.
The Celtics plan to get Garnett more touches after he went 4-for-12 for eight points in Game 1.
“We’ve got to play through Kevin a lot more,” Paul Pierce told the Boston Herald. “He’s one of our best passers. I mean he’s one of the most unselfish players, so we have to do a better job of getting him the ball, a lot more than he got it yesterday.
“Doc said he wants Kevin to be aggressive, he wants him to take 20 shots, but even when we run plays for Kevin, he’s so responsible that he’s going to find the open man and be responsible with the ball. He usually ends up getting four or five assists. So we have to do a better job of involving him because he’s good at doing a lot of playmaking duties.”
Without Chandler doing much in Game 1, Kenyon Martin stepped up and had 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, including a critical layup with 40 seconds left.
But if the Knicks are to not only win Game 2, but make a deep run in this postseason, they will need more from Chandler going forward.
“Game 2 is just as important as Game 1,” he said. “We have to make sure that we protect our home floor, take the series back to Boston, 2-0, in our favor.”
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